Production Summary of Cellulose Nanomaterials

Jack Miller

Principal Consultant

Market-Intell LLC

Production Summary

Activities in the production of Cellulose Nanomaterials (CN) has greatly accelerated over the past 5 years.   To help track this progress the NanoDivision has teamed up with Jack Miller to summarize the past and current state of the industry that is in the public domain.  Information presented here are extracted from reports produced by Jack Miller.  Periodic updates will be made to this website so that the information remains current. If anyone has additional updates, comment or corrections please contact Jack Miller.  

 

Jack Miller's Bio:

Jack Miller is Principal Consultant, Market-Intell LLC, which he founded in 2005 and re-branded as Biobased Markets in 2018. Jack is also an Associate Consultant with RISI and a member of the Advisory Board of Sweetwater Energy, a biorefinery company. Jack served as Business Development Consultant with CelluForce, Inc., from 2011 to 2013, and was Consulting Manager, Global Nanocellulose Sales, American Process, Inc., in 2014 and 2015. Prior to 2005 Jack enjoyed a long career in the pulp and paper industry.

Jack is the author of Nanocellulose Challenges and Opportunities: End User Perspectives, published by TAPPI in 2018 and Nanocellulose Producers, Products and Applications, A Guide for End Users, published by TAPPI in 2017. He is also the author of Nanocellulose: Technology, Applications, and Markets, published by RISI in 2014, and Lignin: Technology, Applications, and Markets published by RISI in 2017.

Jack is currently working on a new study of markets for nanocellulose in packaging, which will be available from RISI in the next few months.

Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC)

CNC Production Capacity

.

Updates with CNC Production

 Sweetwater Energy is a new addition to the list of CNC producers. Sweetwater is a biorefinery that that has patented processes for low cost production of a full range of high quality biorefinery products including pure lignin, activated carbon, C5/C6 sugars, and most notably, microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) which can readily be converted to cellulose nanocrystals (CNC). Sweetwater operates a pilot plant in Rochester NY that is expected to be capable of producing one tonne per week of MCC/CNC by the end of 2018.

Klabin, another new addition to the list,acquired an equity position in Melodea in February, 2018.  Melodea’s 35 tpy CNC plant in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden is in the final stages of commissioning and is scheduled to start commercial production before the end of 2018.

Cellulose Nanofibrils (CNFs) and Microfibrilated Cellulose (MFC)

.

The terms cellulose nanofibrils and microfibrillated cellulose are being used interchangeably. There is considerable overlap in specifications, and, as the figure below shows, many of these materials contain a mix of nano-scale and micro-scale particles. Some producers prefer to call their material “nano” because it sounds more advanced, while others prefer to call it “micro” because of perceptions about environment, health, and safety issues. Both CNF and MFC are generally included in discussions of cellulose nanomaterials. Here we will use the terminology the producers use.

Sources suggest that the largest volumes are in captive paper and paperboard markets, i.e., mills quietly producing MFC or CNF and using it in their own products. Although most of these are not identified, one estimate suggests that this volume runs to tens of thousands of tonnes of MFC/CNF.   

CNF & MFC Production Capacity

.

.

Updates with CNF & MFC Production

Turners Falls Paper, the first commercial installation of the GL&V FibreFine technology, closed in April 2017 due to conditions in paper markets. GL&V reports that there have been numerous trials at various mills, with several possible new installations, but details remain confidential. Actively marketing technologies and equipment for mills to produce these materials

FiberLean had capacity for 8,000 tonnes of MFC, approximately 40,000 tonnes of FiberLean MFC Composite, at the beginning of 2018.  Actively marketing technologies and equipment for mills to produce these materials.  In June, 2018, a new FiberLean MFC installation started up at the NorPaper mill in Nantes, France. The plant is expected to produce a minimum of 800 tonnes per year of MFC. 

Borregaard Exilva is reported to be the first commercial scale MFC. Following successful trials with the RISE Innventia mobile pilot plant, full scale testing of packaging products with Exilva is now underway with BillerudKorsnäs.

American Process announced the launch of its GreenBox++® technology for chemical-free production of corrugating medium. In 2016 API installed a demonstration line at its Thomaston, Georgia biorefinery for production of up to 0.5 tons per day of high lignin content cellulose nanofibrils, GB-FibrilsTM, using the GreenBox front-end technology, and has reported collaborations with containerboard mills in the U.S., Canada, and Malaysia. 

The Kyoto University Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere (RISH) has established a pilot plant with a capacity of one tonne per year of thermoplastic resins with 10 wt.% CNF. Seiko PMC constructed a pilot plant based on this Kyoto process in 2013, and Nippon Paper did so in 2017.

Stora Enso had a test market with 100 million Elopak packages with MFC-containing liquid packaging board. Imatra is reported as a pilot plant, but “Stora Enso invested EUR 9 million in new MFC production at Imatra, Ingerois and Fors mills. The new capacity corresponds to 500,000 tonnes of board made with MFC after a ramp-up period of 3–5 years.” At 3% to 5% MFC, that would be 6,000 to 10,000 tonnes of MFC capacity. Contacts at Stora Enso have not responded to requests for current updated capacity information.