Posted: September 24, 2009

Alberta conference reveals growing enthusiasm for nanotechnology in forest products community

(Nanowerk News) More than 180 nanoscience experts from 12 countries met in June to discuss the potential of nano-enabled biomaterials. Held in Edmonton, AB, Canada, and co-sponsored by TAPPI and the Alberta Ingenuity Fund, the conference revealed developments for revolutionizing paper and wood products, as well as capturing sustainability-focused markets with bionanocomposites and capitalizing on wood-derived nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) and nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC).
"The hot topic was NCC-NFC, with people talking about the benefits in increasing paper performance," said Phil Jones, a conference chairperson and director of new business development and new ventures at Imerys. "The rapidly increasing rate of spending in this area is impressive."
Conference attendees learned that Japan, Finland, and Canada in particular are escalating research funding in the area of NCC-NFC production. Attendees also heard about health, safety, and legal issues surrounding nanoscience from multidisciplinary experts in industry and academia. Among the paper companies benefiting from this information as panelists and attendees were SAPPI Fine Paper, SCA, Smart Papers, Stora Enso, Verso Paper, Domtar, Mondi, Kruger, Nippon Paper, AbitibiBowater, and Alpac.
"The conference provided a clear comparison of all current nanocellulose fiber work," said Steven Masia, research scientist for Sappi Fine Paper NA. "It also offered insights into new nanoscale measurement techniques that are invaluable for development of products with improved performance. The conference offered information on new nanobiological technologies, and I made several contacts that are interested in evaluating projects of mutual interest."
“The conference reinforced the fact that companies, both within and outside of the forest products industry, have only scratched the surface of what is possible with NCC and NFC. "Most researchers in nanotechnology are unaware of the rich opportunities that NCC offers with regards to advanced materials," said Martin Moskovits, a nanotechnology expert and CTO for API Nanotronics. With the success of this conference and the building enthusiasm for nanotechnology applications, plans are underway for TAPPI's 5th International Conference on Nanotechnology for the Forest Products Industry, to be held next year in Helsinki, Finland.
Source: TAPPI