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How is the water bound to the fibrils?

Nanocellulose presents huge opportunities and potential, but also a great many challenges. During the research programme, work will be carried out on fundamental aspects and processes regarding how nanocellulose-based materials can be produced and characterised. Christian Aulin explains more.

What will you be researching into? 

One part of the research programme will try to spin threads and produce films on a larger scale under industrially relevant conditions. We will also look at how to optimise the manufacturing process and produce nanocellulose in an energy-efficient way. An important aim of the programme is to develop new methods for characterising nanocellulose. 

“We will customise nanocellulose for various purposes,” says Christian Aulin. He also explains that nanocellulose has huge potential as a barrier material and can, for instance, replace aluminium, which is deemed a polluter. 

What are the challenges?

One major challenge involves removing water from the nanocellulose and being able to shape the material. The water is bound to the cellulose and the finer the particles, the more difficult it is to remove the water. The challenge also relates to energy and developing continuous processes for forming materials such as threads and films. 

How can the challenges be solved?

“We will look at various parts of the process and scale them up so that the industry can see that what we are looking at is relevant,” says Christian Aulin.

The goal is to be able to identify and develop processes for various grades of nanocellulose and to tailor them to a range of applications. In order to solve the challenge of the water, the researchers are looking in a fundamental way at how water is bound to the fibrils. With that knowledge, it may be possible to determine, for instance, how to dry or squeeze out the water effectively.

Christian Aulin is responsible for the area "Nanocellulosa processes and materials" in the research program 2018-2020.


Christian Aulin
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