Derived from wood pulp or plant cellulose, nanocellulose offers exceptional mechanical, rheological, thermal, and structural advantages over other cellulose-based derivatives and nanomaterials. Commonly known as cellulose, the shape of the material varies from ribbon-shaped to thread-shaped to short rod-shaped, depending on its source and manufacturing process. Nanocellulose is useful for a wide spectrum of applications – this ranges from blocking oxygen in packaging films to rheological modification use in oilfield chemicals.
Nanofibrillated Cellulose Dominates Global Nanocellulose Market
Analysts at TMR have pointed out some observations pertaining to major nanocellulose products. These are as follows:
- Of the several nanocellulose product types, nanofibrillated cellulose held a share of more than 50% in the global market in 2014. The manufacture of nanofibrillated cellulose involves a series of mechanical treatments that impart exceptional durability and tensile strength to the material. This makes the material suitable for several end-use industries such as paper processing, oil and gas, paints and coatings, composites, and adhesives.
- Nanocrystalline cellulose products held the second largest share in the nanocellulose market in 2014; the material is suitable for packaging films, personal care products, and textiles.
- In 2014, the bacterial nanocellulose product segment held the lowest share in the global market; however, the product segment will register the fastest growth in the coming years. Bacterial nanocellulose is biocompatible in nature and promotes chondrocyte proliferation and adhesion. Due to this, the material is suitable for drug delivery systems and in biomedical and biotechnology fields.
Nanocellulose Filters Viable for Industrial Processes
Recently, in experiments conducted at the industry level, nanocellulose filters have proven their utility for industrial-scale water purification needs. In a series of tests carried out at a Spanish water company and two Spanish factories, filters made from nanocellulose have proven to be highly effective. Consequently, the tests reinforce tests that were earlier conducted as Nano Select – a project led by the Luleå University of Technology and funded by the European Union.
Beginning with small-sized nanocellulose filters to examine their efficacy for low-volume use, the tests conducted as part of Nano Select were gradually scaled up. Nanocellulose filters were used to prove their efficacy for purifying water from industrial and public waterworks for a positive impact on human and animal health and the environment. The final step in project Nano Select to prove the efficacy of nanocellulose involved testing these filters at a leather goods factory, at a Spanish water treatment plant, and a water company in Spain, Acondaqua Ingeniería del Aqua SL.
With continued development of the product, researchers have delivered filters that correctly fit into housing filters and filter cartridges used in industry. The project’s findings have aroused the interest of large companies such as the British retail giant Marks & Spencer and Swedish mining company LKAB for adopting nanocellulose for operational and production needs.