The EU-funded project NCC-Foam has successfully scaled up its production of nano-crystalline cellulose foam for use in innovative composite materials.
The 3-year project has developed a nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC) foam/resin composite which enables the design, development and processing of sustainable structural foam materials.
The controlled patterning of the foam’s nano-structure during its innovative self-assembly process facilitates production of materials with customised internal structures which improve both strength lightweighting. The inherent strength of the NCC skeleton results in lightweight and cost-effective foams which can be incorporated into sandwich-structured composite materials.
The new, batch-based, manufacturing cell has dramatically increased the production rate of NCC foam from the laboratory-based method, allowing significant quantities of the material to be manufactured and bringing cycles times to under 60 minutes per sheet. In fact, production rates have ramped up by 3200% from the laboratory-based method. These larger area (40 x 60 cm) sheets will allow the feasibility of future industrialisation to be assessed, as well as permitting a full characterisation of the materials.
NetComposites’ Anthony Stevenson, Project Manager of NCC-FOAM, commented “With the launch of this new pilot-scale manufacturing cell, the project has taken a significant step towards providing a commercial and fully-industrialised process for the production of NCC foam. During the project’s final year development work will continue and options for future upgrades to a continuous process will be explored.”
Testing of the new NCC foam sandwich-structured composites has shown them to be suitable for use in multiple applications, where sustainable, lightweight, moisture resistant, and highly insulating materials are required.
The NCC-FOAM project will share its pilot-scale manufacturing cell with the BRIMEE project which aims to develop better performing insulation materials for improving building energy performance and significantly reducing building operational energy.
The consortium is managed by NetComposites, with 11 other partners from 6 EU member states, including BALance, Blatraden, D’Appolonia, Exova, FSG, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Lindbäcks, Melodea, RIVM, Swerea SICOMP and Universiteit Utrecht.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 604003.