D. Skuse, Y. Jin, J. Phipps, T. Larson, S. Ireland
FiberLean® Technologies Ltd.,
Keywords: microfibrillated cellulose, nanofibrillated cellulose, industrial developments applications
Summary:When pulp and minerals are co-processed in aqueous suspension, the mineral acts as a grinding aid allowing cost effective production of fibrils. Furthermore, this processing uses robust, industrial milling equipment. Mineral/ microfibrillated cellulose composite materials produced in this manner have been commercialised under the tradename, FiberLean® MFC and there are 10 000 dmt of dry fibril capacity (45 000 dmt of composite production capacity) in operation. Such composites can be prepared using a wide range of virgin and recycled pulp sources and a wide range of minerals, with choices dependent on the end application. Regulatory clearance for these materials is progressing around the world. In paper and packaging applications use of these mineral/ microfibrillated cellulose composite materials allow generally improved wet and dry mechanical properties with concomitant opportunities for cost savings, property improvements or grade developments. Here we report examples of (i) increased filler content and improved coating holdout in graphic paper, (ii) improved optical, dematerialisation and barrier properties in packaging applications and (iii) some potential new product development directions. The unique properties of mineral/ MFC composites allow these materials to be applied to applications beyond the paper and packaging industry. Applications include; (i) as wet and dry strength additives to enhance the mechanical properties of web-based structures, such as acoustic tiles and boards, (ii) as the main constituent in products such as non-woven mats, (iii) as rheology modifiers, for example in personal care products, paints and oil field formulations and (iv) as reinforcing additives in composites. Here we report examples of the use of mineral/ MFC composites in all of these applications and highlight opportunities for performance improvements and new product developments.