Nanocellulose Pilot Plant to be Unveiled Next Week at Forest Products Lab

The U.S. Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) is poised to become the country's leading producer of forest-based nanomaterials with the opening of a $1.7 million nanocellulose pilot plant. The facility will support an emerging market for new wood-derived renewable materials that will create jobs and contribute an estimated $600 billion to the economy by 2020.

High-ranking industry, government, and academic officials will gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the FPL facilities in Madison, Wis., on July 25, and the media is welcome to attend. The ribbon cutting will begin at 10 a.m. with presentations by USDA Forest Service and industry leadership, including Larry Montague, CEO of TAPPI, who will discuss the importance of nanotechnology and nanomaterials from wood for the pulp and paper industry and highlight what TAPPI is doing to help move this forward with the formation of the TAPPI Nanotechnology Division, the annual TAPPI nanomaterials international conferences that focus on all aspects from research through commercialization, and the TAPPI standards work.

Other attendees/speakers include USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman, who will deliver the ribbon cutting keynote address, Forest Service Northern Research Station Director and FPL Acting Director Michael Rains, and industry representatives from companies such as IBM and Lockheed Martin.

Following the ribbon cutting ceremonies, FPL will conduct tours of the nanocellulose production facilities. After lunch, from 1 – 3 p.m., FPL will present its Nanocellulose Symposium, and from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., Agenda 2020 will hold an Executive Briefing.

FPL notes that the U.S. and other nations will see numerous benefits from the commercialization of wood-derived cellulosic nanomaterials, as they have many desirable characteristics. "They can be stronger than Kevlar fiber and provide high strength with low weight. These attributes have attracted the interest of the military for use in lightweight armor and ballistic glass, as well as companies in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, and medical device industries," FPL points out.

As new lightweight, high-performance products are developed and commercialized, fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced, manufacturing in rural areas will increase, and many new high-paying jobs will be created, FPL continues, adding that its new facility will aid in the commercialization of these materials by providing researchers and early adopters of the technology with working quantities of forest-based nanomaterials.