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CelluForce Starting up World's First NanoCrystalline Cellulose Plant

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CelluForce, Montreal, Que., Canada, this week announced the end of the construction phase and the start of operations at the first manufacturing plant for NanoCrystalline Cellulose (NCC) in the world. NCC is an advanced material derived from wood fiber that improves strength, durability, and toughness. Nanomaterial is capable of transforming the performance of existing products and creating new, unique, and improved products for numerous industrial sectors.

For the past eight weeks, CelluForce, a joint venture of Domtar Corp., Montreal, and Canada-based FPInnovations, says that it has been progressively starting up equipment for the first-ever, large-scale production of NCC. The nanomaterial will be produced in state-of-the-art facilities located at Domtar's pulp and paper plant in Windsor, Que. Construction extended over a 14-month period. It required a total investment of $36 million, including financial participation of both the federal and Québec governments.

CelluForce President and CEO Jean Moreau reported that "wood pulp is being delivered to the plant to test the new equipment and we are making progress on a daily basis. NCC will start to be produced by the end of the year, with production gradually increasing until it reaches a steady rhythm of 1,000 kg per day in 2012."

As Rene Goguen, VP, Manufacturing for CelluForce, explained, "the rapid advances made in testing stages bear testimony to the hard work, devotion, and expertise of our employees. We are all proud to be participating in this project and very conscious of the fact that it is a world first. The 25 operations personnel of this youthful company, who were already experienced employees at Domtar, a partner in CelluForce, started work last June. They went through an intensive training session to ensure they were ready to startup the specialized equipment, most of which was custom-built specifically for the manufacture of NCC.

Recyclable and renewable, NCC, in addition to boosting strength, durability, and toughness, can reduce damage caused by wear, abrasion, and light. It can also be incorporated into systems to make structures that are light reflective (tunable from ultraviolet to infrared), impermeable to gas and stable over time. Properties of this advanced material derived from wood fiber will lead to commercial applications largely exceeding those of traditional wood fiber products, CelluForce says. .

CelluForce will, on a worldwide basis, market NCC for strength applications under the CelluForce Impact brand, and for optical applications of NCC under the CelluForce Allure brand. Trials integrating NCC into the manufacturing process of different products are currently taking place with a variety of potential partners, and CelluForce notes that it should be in a position to announce the signing of its initial contracts shortly.


Xerium Technologies, Inc.