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Wood derivative 8 times stronger than steel opens new manufacturing jobs

A new wonder material — nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) — produced by processing wood pulp is beginning production in the U.S., and the National Science Foundation predicts it will become a $600 billion industry by 2020.

The material is being used by Japan-based Pioneer Electronics for the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers and the U.S. Army is using it to make lightweight body armor and ballistic glass.

The first NCC factory was opened up in the U.S. in Madison, Wisconsin over the summer. It’s only the second pilot production plant for cellulose-based nanomaterials in the world.

How NCC is made

NCC is transparent and made from tightly packed crystals that have a strength to weight ration eight times greater than that of steel. And it’s cheap.

NCC starts with purified wood. It’s milled into a pulp and hydrolyzed in acid to remove impurities, then separated and concentrated as crystals. In this form — a thick paste — it can be applied to surfaces as a laminate. It can also be processed into strands that form nanofibrils.

Applications of NCC

The NCC nanofibrils are hard and dense and can be forced into different shapes of varying sizes. An added benefit, when the material is freeze-dried, is that it becomes lightweight, absorbent and a good insulator. According to an article at the New Scientist, NCC will eventually replace metal and plastic car parts and could make non-organic plastics obsolete in the not-too-distant future.

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  1. Structural Steel says

    Better to use a quality material for a good investment.

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