The technology of cellulose fibrils/nanocellulose is breaking new grounds, and my research review this week is focusing on materials development. So if you are wondering how new increasingly sustainable nanocellulose/thermoplastic solutions are looking, you should not miss out on this week’s research review!
Cellulose-based materials, like paper and board, are commonly used in packaging. They are light-weight, durable, bio-based and easily recyclable which have made them a popular packaging material. However, paper and board lack the necessary barrier properties for food packaging and therefore an additional barrier layer is often added on the paper. Today, this layer is made from polymers, like polyethylene terephthalate or polyethylene, or aluminum. There are efforts to replace these materials with bio-based, biodegradable films in order to reduce the dependency on crude oil as well as reduce the impact on the environment.
Cellulose fibrils are most often supplied as readily activated water suspensions. This maintains the product’s performance and makes it easy to incorporate into a formulation. It however brings up questions about the microbial stability of the suspension over time. Is the robustness of Cellulose fibrils enough in this case?
This week’s blog post started its life when I attended a stakeholder forum which was organized by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBIJU), a part of the EU H2020 initiative. I listened to a high number of innovators within several fields such as bio-fuels, bio-chemicals, as well as new and more sustainable materials. I started a line of thought, where the word paradigm occurred to me; I am part of a generation raised in the latter part of the 20th century where a majority of things we take for granted are based on technologies from the petroleum sector. The paradigm has given opportunities and challenges, but how does this paradigm affect us and our thoughts on innovation?
Plastic microparticles found in the environment have gotten a lot of attention lately. Many of the plastics are very durable and do not degrade in a reasonable time in the nature, although today there are also biodegradable plastics available. Small pieces of plastic can be found almost everywhere on the Earth and it is not fully understood what kind of consequences that could have for the human beings and environment. Therefore, replacing non-biodegradable plastics with biodegradable materials in packaging, clothes and cosmetics has high focus right now. Cellulose fibrils come from wood or other natural resources; are they biodegradable? Can they replace non-biodegradable plastic and reduce the amount of microplastics in the environment?