Over 400 participants attended the 2019 TAPPI Nano conference (International Conference on Nanotechnology for Renewable Materials) held in Chiba, Japan the first week of June, including several FPInnovations scientists and managers, among who gave presentations and chaired sessions.
FPInnovations’ delegation made the most of the opportunity to network with peers from around the world working in R&D institutes, academia, and government.
We asked our delegation, Vincent Blanchard, Regulatory Affairs manager; Xiaolin Cai, Pointe Claire manager of the Transformation and Interfaces group; Jimmy Jong, senior director of Next Generation Processes, and Chuanwei Miao, bioproducts scientist, to give us the top 10 highlights from the conference.
- With no industry standards yet established, several large companies are moving ahead with their own proprietary methods of cellulosic nanomaterial (CNM) production. Every country tends to favour its own technology to produce CNMs.
- Replacing plastic packaging with CNM film or lamination applications is high on everyone’s agenda. A large part of R&D is based on developing barrier properties that will compete with existing petroleum-based products.
- CNM R&D is also focused on concrete chemical admixtures, composites, cosmetics, and the crystallization of medicine to control drug release, as well as on varied uses for 3D printed materials with different matrixes, such as hydrogels and biopolymers, that could be stretchable and conductive.
- Canada is considered to be a leading technology developer and at the forefront of producing large-scale amounts of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and cellulosic fibrils (CFs).
- American engineers and researchers have already built a pilot bridge in California using a concrete and CNC formulation.
- China and Japan are ramping up CNM production with multiple pilot plants and new commercial plants now in operation.
- Other countries that may be limited in their ability to develop and market their own CNM industry from the ground up are getting in the game by investing in technology-based companies that produce CNMs and or buying existing companies.
- Japan has developed CNMs as additives in food products, such as a thickening agent in pancake mixes and red bean pastes. No information was made public about the concentration used or the data supporting the non-toxicity of the edible products.
- The issue of the safety of human health was a topic of conversation for CNM applications in the food, medical, and cosmetics industries. Research on the subject will become a larger part of R&D.
- Delegates were offered a Japanese confectionary during a break that contains carboxymethylated cellulosic nanofibrils (CNFs) among its ingredients. The CNFs were said to meet Japanese food regulations and were added to give a moist texture to the product.