Home PAPTAC 2018 PWC/BIOFOR Coverage Jean Hamel Presents Key CNC’s Challenges

Jean Hamel Presents Key CNC’s Challenges

Paper Advance met with Jean Hamel, Vice President Industry for FPInnovations on the margins of the FPInnovations Nanocellulose Research Symposium.

The symposium offered participants a unique opportunity to hear about an entire range of advancements surrounding the properties of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC). The session focused on the scale-up of production processes, right through to the plant demonstration stage. Vice President of Industry for FPInnovations Jean Hamel noted there is now a wide breadth of extensive research on the topic of CNC, which suggests there are new opportunities and interest in industrial application and the development of new, value-added products.

Paper Advance (PA): This morning you gave a talk entitled ''FPInnovations Nanocellulose Challenges – History and Context''. What can CNC's recent past tell us about the future of innovation in the forest sector?

Jean Hamel (JH): Experience tells us it takes time to develop materials in whole value chain and that each new associated innovation has to be managed and integrated into a coherent system. As such, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but lessons can nevertheless be learned. One is that an innovation management approach is essential. Innovation is not just technology or science but a much more complex whole. Here, science and technology could be considered like the stone of a peach, it's central but there is a lot of good flesh around it and innovation management allows to take advantage of the whole fruit.

I believe innovation should, by definition, be implemented and FPInnovations is both active at the front and back end of the process. We are always mindful of the key impacts we are trying to achieve and CNC is a case in point to illustrate this. In this specific case, when the Business-Led Network of Centres of Excellence ArboraNano ended its operations, it entered an agreement with FPInnovations to launch research and development programs aimed at solving key technological challenges and to disseminate the results rapidly. We decided to use an innovation management strategy to accomplish this, while benefiting from interesting feedback from the research community and business sector.

PA: Today's symposium was organized in the spirit of open publication. Is this a new conference format for FPInnovations?

JH: The idea of open publication symposiums is not new and we use it when the subject or issue lends itself to that type of format. When we work on complex systems such as those involved in CNC, we are faced by a lot of unknowns, and when minds come together we can fill the gaps in knowledge much more easily. In this sense, new applications for CNC were certainly developed more rapidly using this approach and it generates a spirit of emulation in the community. An open publication symposium encourages networking, discussion and collaboration.

PA: In your presentation, you mentioned that nanocellulose application development was hindered by gaps in fundamental scientific knowledge. How can this be addressed?

JH: Our solution was to use ArboraNano residual industrial assets to fund research on these gaps via a contract with FPInnovations. Here we identified six scientific or technological obstacles in the way of the deployment of CNC at a commercial level: aqueous dispersion, non-aqueous dispersion, strength reinforcement potential, characterization, compatibilization and heat stability. These gaps in knowledge were addressed through seven collaborative research projects involving researchers at seven Canadian universities.

To gain traction we secured funding by partners such as NSERC, PRIMA Quebec, Ontario Centres of Excellence and Innotech Alberta. Instead of financing fundamental research on NCC we gave universities clear objectives. For example, when working on aqueous dispersion we asked our researchers focus on finding t ways to improve dispersion or to find ways to better characterize the dispersion itself. This becomes even more interesting because it is in the application of fundamental research that we are faced with unknowns.

Thursday, 8 February 2018
8:30- 10:00

FPInnovations Nanocellulose Research Symposium

Session Chairs: John Schmidt and Wadood Hamad, FPInnovations

''FPInnovations Nanocellulose Challenges – History and Context''
Jean Hamel, FPInnovations

''Effects of aqueous suspension properties on the atomization and dispersibility of spray dried cellulose nanocrystallite granules''
Yussef Esparza, Alberta University

Mathieu Régnier, Journalist,
Paper Advance


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