ACTIVITY

The aim of CLS Sodalitas is the development, production and sale of cellulose nanoparticles (CNs), made from agricultural biomass, rubble and cellulose-based waste and by-products of the paper, textiles and agri-food industries.

The possibility of producing CNCs from lignocellulosic bio-masses, by-products and wastes from the pulp and paper industries, with the aim of producing a bio-based, high gas barrier coating for flexible packaging, has been proved by experimental work carried out by our research partner PackLAB of Milan University.

Sodalitas uses two different techniques for the production of cellulose nanoparticles (CNs)

one which associates preparation, transformation, purification and functionalisation steps to a mechanical process, to achieve the extraction of cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs)

Cellulose Nanofibrils (CNFs)
CNFs will be typically put to use in the production of paper, paying particular attention to special products and innovative uses which exploit the potential offered by CNFs in terms of the ability to be transparent, adhesive, water repellent, flame retardant and to conduct electricity.

and a second which exploits chemical hydrolosis, associated with operations for preparation, transformation, purification and functionlalisation to create cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs)

Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNCs)
CNCs will be used in primary packaging for food, given their high oxygen barrier, aimed at increasing the shelf life of the foods packaged.

From cellulose macrofibres to nanocrystals Smaller than natural fibres, larger than the essential molecular unit: cellobiose disaccharide.

USES

The production of nanofibrils is based on the use of high-pressure mechanical systems which cause the delamination of the walls of fibres, releasing nanofibrils. In order to make the process as cheap as possible in terms of use of electricity, close attention will be paid to the development of enzymatic or other pretreatment methods.

Production will focus on the applicative specialization of nanofibrils, aiming to cover well-known areas of use as well as innovative uses.

COATINGS made of cellulose nanocrystals on various plastic supports, to improve their properties.

WELL-KNOWN USES

the paper and cardboard segment is an area of extensive use, in that the improved mechanical performances due to the use of nanofibrils bring an economic benefit thanks to the use of less cellulose per square metre of paper or cardboard produced (weighing less while offering the same performance).

INNOVATIVE USES

these undoubtedly represent areas with a high added value on one hand and exclusive solutions on the other.

  • The production of special papers with high mechanical performances (resistance to scratches and scuffs, mechanical resistance), aesthetic performances (transparency, shine, softness), tactile performance (soft touch), and water repellence (waterproof) open up new scenarios and a broad spectrum of application.
  • The production of cellulose adhesives opens up the way to the replacement of synthetic adhesives in the paper industry, in the production of boxes and furniture, and in other areas of use.
  • The excellent mechanical characteristics of nanofibrils (superior to iron) allow their use as reinforcement in polymeric compounds, cementitious mortar and plaster, and in the production of paper-cardboard furnishings for nursery schools, homes, etc.

Their use in primary packaging for food would represent an interesting innovation both in terms of the significantly higher performances of the actual materials, and as an ecocompatible alternative to the materials of fossil origin currently used.

As prototype of such cellulosic sources, kraft pulp, wood pulp, Poseidonia oceanica (a seagrass species that is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea), rice and soy husks, have been tested. The comparison with the nanoparticles obtained from very pure cellulosic source, such as cotton linters, always led to very promising results.

In the pictures of the slideshow, examples of these possible source of CNs and images of CNCs, obtained by the electron microscope, are shown.

At the same time, and consequently, the project envisages the development of adequate forms of derivation, alteration and functionalisations of the CN produces, which will be capable of making CNCs and CNFs really suitable for use in new applications of interest to possible markets for the items products, with a view to creating a symbiosis between companies in different sectors.

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