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Comment Processing & Handling

Continuous production of transparent sheets of cellulose nanofibers

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Oji Holdings Corp. (OJI; www.ojiholdings.co.jp) and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. (MCC; both Tokyo, Japan; www.m-kagaku.co.jp) have developed a continuous process for producing transparent sheets made from ultra-thin, wood-based cellulose nanofibers (CNF). Both OJI’s papermaking technology and MCC’s chemical treatment technology contributed to this achievement. Purpose-built equipment has been installed at OJI’s Shinonome Research Center (a $100,000 investment), and shipping of test samples has begun. The two companies anticipate commercial applications by 2016. Thin (4-nm dia.) CNFs made from pulp have a low thermal-expansion coefficient (similar to that of glass fiber), but a higher elastic modulus than that of glass fiber. These properties could enable future applications in filtration, adsorption and catalyst supports, as well as materials for electronic, construction, transportation and medical components. The companies have developed the technology for the continuous production of transparent, foldable, lightweight sheets from the CNFs. Ultrafine porous sheets have been made with pore sizes of 8 to 46 nm (1/100th to 1/500th that of copy paper); planar densities of 8–85 g/m2; and specific surface areas of 39…
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