Nanoscience for wood products

Nanoquebec, a Quebec provincial scientific organization researching nanotechnology, has teamed with FPInnovations, Pointe Claire, QC, in a three-year, $C1-million R&D development program for the forest sector.

The Forintek division will focus on improving wood composites with nanomaterials and the surface treatment of wood products using plasma and thin films.

The Paprican division will focus on the use of nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) in a range of topics of interest to papermakers. The NCC program covers development of new nanocomposites, modification of NCC surface properties to improve the compatibility of polymers with NCC in nanocomposites, applications exploiting NCC’s optical properties – such as color development and iridescence.

Also to be studied are NCC-based coatings, especially those with gas and liquid barrier properties, and NCC as a substrate for catalysis. Included are characterization of NCC and the application of nanomaterials to improve pulp and paper processes.

NanoQuebec and FPInnovations have committed funding of $C400, 000 and $C300, 000 respectively. Other sources will provide $C300,000.

• In Europe, Antwerp, Belgium-based chemicals company TopChim has signed a research agreement with the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flan - ders (IWT) and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) of Ghent University.

Over the past six years TopChim has been developing SMI (polystyrene maleimide) nanoparticles as a coating component for the paper, cardboard and packaging industry. After a successful market release of the first range of patented NanoTope 26 SMI nanoparticles, TopChim decided to invest in more fundamental research for SMI technology.

IWT has granted TopChim and CMSE government funding for a three-year R&D program for SMI nanoparticles. The project started in September 2008 with a total budget of 900,000 Euros and aims for a better understanding of the chemistry and physics at the nano level of the SMI nanoparticles. The main aim is to broaden insight into the physical characteristics of the nanoparticles such as shape, size and uniformity. Interaction with minerals and substances from renewable resources is another focus. TopChim hopes to further develop paper and board coatings to improve printability, brightness, barrier performances and ecological effect. It will also seek applications in other industries where SMI nanoparticles may improve performances for surface treatment, material reinforcement and material interaction.

TopChim specializes in paper and cardboard coating technology; it is based in Belgium and Brazil, and operates in Europe and Latin America.

• In North America, the International Council on Nanotechnology is seeking input from occupational safety professionals in the development of a "Nano Good Practices Wiki" for sharing information about the safe handling of nano materials in occupational settings. Information is at PI


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