Nanocellulose, threat or opportunity?

Nanocellulose, threat or opportunity?

Potential impact on the pulp industry.

London November 10th -16

Per Svending- VP Marketing

Nanocellulosics has been a hot area for research in the last decade

NanocellulosicsIn General:

  • Technology driven
  • Low volume, high cost
  • Focus on high value applications

Natural cellulose fibers

The incentive is to exploit the unique properties of Nanocellulose

Often quoted Nanocellulose advantages:

  • Abundant, natural nanomaterial
  • Renewable, biodegradable and biocompatible
  • High strength and modulus
  • High thermal stability
  • Lightweight
  • Optical transparancy
  • High water binding capability
  • High aspect ratio and high surface area
  • Chemical functionality and modification
  • Dimensional stability
  • Barrier properties

Numerous companies active in making Nanocellulose

Companies active in making Nanocellulose+ a very large number of universities and research institutes.

“Nanocellulose” can mean many things


  • Raw materials
    • Pulp
    • Cotton
    • Straw, etc.
    • Bacteria derived
  • Product types
    • Micro-scale fibrils
    • Nano-scale fibrils
    • Crystals
  • Processes
    • Chemical pre-treatment
    • Enzymatic pre-treatment
    • Homogenisation
    • Supermasscolloiders
    • Extruders
    • Refiners
    • Hydrolysis
    • Other

A composite of Microfibrillated Cellulose and mineral…

FiberLean® MFC is a composite produced by co-grinding cellulose fibers with minerals, such as GCC (Ground Calcium Carbonate), PCC (Precipitated Calcium Carbonate) or kaolin, based on a proprietary patented process.

FiberLean production process is cost-efficient, flexible and scalable

FiberLean MFC

…with a pinch of salt!

...with a pinch of salt!

Approximate Nanocellulose dimensions and position of FiberLean® MFC

Approximate Nanocellulose dimensions

FiberLean® MFC in the world of Nanocellulosics

  • FiberLean® MFC composite with Talc

    FiberLean® MFC composite with Talc

    Microfibrillated, rather than Nano.

  • Relevant plant scale for commercial application in major paper mills.
  • On site production to minimize cost, especially for transportation of low solids material.
  • Developed for cost savings in filler increase application.
  • Several new applications in fiber based packaging and non-paper.
  • Established capacity 2016 of 8 000 dry ton pure MFC (40 000 dry ton FiberLean MFC in two commercial plants and one pilot plant).

The actual market development is beating an optimistic forecast made in 2012

actual market developmentKey hurdles highlighted in 2012:

  • Decrease cost of manufacturing
  • Reduce energy demand
  • Scaling up to industrial quantities

FiberLean® Technologies Ltd and its owners/partners

FiberLean® Technologies Ltd and its owners/partnersFiberLean Technologies provides services to IMERYS and OMYA:

  • Marketing and application support
  • Process development and engineering
  • Research and Development
  • Regulatory and IP stewardship

IMERYS and OMYA are separately and independently responsible for all commercial activities.





Imerys and Omya are ideal partners in terms of access to potential markets for Nanocellulose

Proposed markets/applications for Nanocellulose

High volume applications Low volume applications Emerging applications
Cement Wallboard facing Air & water filtration
Automotive body Insulation Industrial viscosifiers
Automotive interior Aerospace structure Sensors
Packaging coatings Aerospace interior Cosmetics
Paper coatings Aerogels for oil/gas Drug delivery
Packaging filler Architectural paint Organic LED’s
Paper filler Special purpose paint Printed electronics
Plastic packaging replacement Paint for OEM applications Photovoltaic cells
Plastic film replacement Flexible electronics
Textiles for clothing 3D printing
Hygiene and absorbants Bone & tissue scaffolding
Thermoset adhesives

Source: Market projections of cellulose nanomaterial-enabled products – Part 2: Volume
estimates. (Tappi Journal June 2014 Vol. 13 No. 6 Cowie, Bilek, Wegner and Shatkin)

FiberLean® MFC in paper

FiberLean® MFC in paper

  • Net cost saving from filler increase without sacrificing paper properties or runnability.
  • Improvements in initial wet web strength, opacity and smoothness.
  • Closing up the paper structure for benefits in coating and fiber/filler optimisation.
  • Only marginal impact on wet end chemistry.

FiberLean® MFC performance in paper application

FiberLean performance summary

FDA clearance for FiberLean® MFC

FiberLean MFC has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a food contact substance in paper and paperboard for food packaging applications.

A Food Contact Notification (FCN) became effective on November 6, 2015. This FCN allows up to 5 weight percent of FiberLean MFC fibrils in the packaging.

FiberLean on Top, a new approach to making white boxes

FiberLean on Top

The FiberLean on Top development has huge potential!

  • Based on established MFC process technology with capability to provide the large quantities needed for white top application on big paper machines
  • Lower material cost than bleached market pulp, on a per ton basis
  • With significantly less g/m2 needed to provide coverage
  • Using simple and inexpensive application equipment
  • Suitable for retro-fitting to paper machines
  • Meeting rapidly growing demand for white boxes suitable for digital printing

To what extent could MFC-filler replace market pulp?

Approximate split of market pulp across end-use segments

Approximate split of market pulp across end-use segments


  • 29% of market pulp goes into the filler increase target area.
  • 100% market penetration would mean 1,5 Mton less market pulp.
  • Cost savings could be a way of keeping WF P&W paper mills running.
Filler increase cannot be the greatest threat to pulp suppliers in this end-use segment!

Estimated global market for “nanocellulose”

Mton/year by Market/Application within next 5-10 years

Source: Market projections of cellulose nanomaterial-enabled products – Part 2: Volume estimates. (Tappi Journal June 2014 Vol. 13 No. 6 Cowie, Bilek, Wegner and Shatkin)

Pessimistic Reasonable Optimistic
Cement 0 4,1 8,3
Automotive Body 2,7 3,6 9
Automotive Interior 0,4 0,6 0,7
Packaging Coatings 4 5,3 6,3
Paper Coatings 1,6 2,2 2,7
Paper Filler 1,4 2,4 3,4
Packaging Filler 1,4 2,4 3,4
Replacing Plastic Packaging 1,8 4,2 7.2
Plastic Film replacement 1,7 3,4 5
Hygiene and Absorbent Products 1,9 3,2 6,5
Textiles for Clothing 1,3 2,5 3,9
“Low volume applications” 1,1 2,2 3,4
TOTAL 19 35 60


The total estimated market is huge!

Significant new opportunities for pulp as a raw material.


  • Commercial full scale use of MFC in the paper industry is now established and will be growing.
  • The prospects for Nanocellulose growth in fiber based packaging and in applications outside of Paper & Board are truly exciting.
  • The proposed markets for Nanocellulose outside of Paper & Board represent entirely new opportunities for Cellulose as a raw material.
  • For the pulp industry, the growth of Nanocellulosics should be considered as an opportunity as it will lead to increased demand for pulp.