Recent Development in Microfibrillated Cellulose and Mineral/Microfibrillated Cellulose Composite Materials

Y. Jin, D. Skuse, S. Ireland
FiberLeanĀ® Technologies Ltd.,
United Kingdom

Keywords: microfibrillated cellulose, barrier, acoustic, coating, wood-based panels


Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) is derived from wood and other plant-based cellulose, by mechanically downsizing the pulp fibers into smaller and thinner fibrils. When pulp and minerals are co-processed in aqueous suspension, the mineral acts as a grinding aid allowing cost-effective production of fibrils. Recent FiberLean developments allow the production of MFC with or without the co-addition of minerals, achieving comparable product quality. The materials produced by our patented process are commercialised under the tradename, FiberLeanĀ® MFC. FiberLean products can be prepared using a wide range of virgin and recycled pulp sources (e.g. old corrugated cardboard) and a wide range of minerals, with choices dependent on the end application. Here we report examples of the use of MFC in all the below-mentioned applications and highlight opportunities for performance improvements and new product developments. In paper and packaging applications, the 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) improved optical, dematerialisation and barrier properties in packaging applications and (ii) 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 wood-based panels, (ii) as the food coating component to preserve food quality, (iii) as rheology modifiers, for example in personal care products, paints and oil field formulations and (iv) as reinforcing additives in composites.