Nanocellulose is a lightweight material processed from plant cellulose or wood pulp. Nanocellulose is produced through chemical or mechanical treatment of cellulose—a biopolymer material abundantly available in nature. Nanocellulose finds wide application across various industries, owing to characteristics such as superior mechanical, thermal, rheological, and structural properties. Unique properties of nanocellulose include high aspect ratio, biodegradability, high strength, and low density. Nanocellulose can be employed in virtually every field. It can be used as rheological modifier in oilfield chemicals and oxygen barrier in packaging films. Nanocellulose can potentially replace certain petrochemical-based products and it is relatively cheaper than conventionally used high-performance nanoscale materials.

Nanocellulose is made from a tightly bonded group of needle-like crystals that makes it incredibly hard. As compared to steel, the strength-to-weight ratio of nanocellulose is eight times higher, making it an ideal material for building strong and light body armor. In the production of nanocellulose, the first stage includes removal of non-cellulose impurities from the wood pulp with the help of a high pressure homogenizer. This is then followed by a process of separating the cellulose fibers by gently beating the mixture. This results in the formation of a thick paste with needle-like crystals—nanocellulose. Nanocellulose is used to enhance the mechanical properties of thermosetting resins, rubber latex, soy protein, and starch-based matrixes.

Nanocellulose Market Taxonomy

On the basis of product type, the global market is classified into:

  • Cellulose nanocomposites
  • Cellulose nanocrystals
  • Cellulose nanofibrils

On the basis of end-use industry, the global market is segmented into:

  • Biomedicine
  • Composites and Packaging
  • Paper and Paper board
  • Rheology Modifier
  • Flexible Electronics and Sensors

Cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) are also known as nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC). Cellulose nanofibrils are advanced biomaterial produced primarily from renewable agricultural and forest resources that have proved exceptional performance in composites. Nanocellulose-based sensors are used to monitor stress levels of structures such as bridges. Nanocellulose is also used as a food packaging material as a substitute to polystyrene-based foams. It prevents the wastage of food contents and oxygen penetration in the food contents. In biomedicine industry, nanocellulose is used in pharmaceutical formulations in a powdered form. In cosmetics industry, nanocellulose is used in hair, nails, eyebrows or eyelashes as a composite coating agent.

Nanocellulose Market Outlook – Increasing Demand for Durable and Light Weight Materials across Industries Fueling Market Growth

Rapidly growing pharmaceuticals and packaging industries is one the major factors underpinning growth of the global nanocellulose market. Asia Pacific is one of the major contributors in the nanocellulose market. This is mainly attributed to the booming industries in developing countries such as India and China. The Indian pharmaceuticals industry accounted for total revenue of US$ 31 billion in 2016. This is augmented by various government initiatives such as Make In India, which has attracted many foreign investors in the region. To meet the increasing demand for products, in December 2015, the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers launched the Cluster Development Programme for Pharma Sector (CDP-PS).

Research and development for increasing the area of application is one of the key strategy adopted by the top players in nanocellulose market. Innovative products such as aerogels, bioactive materials composites, and inorganic/organic hybrid materials are under development. Research is also being carried out for using Nanocellulose in the manufacturing of vehicles, owing to properties such as lightweight and high strength. Some of the major companies operating in the global nanocellulose market are Daicel Corporation, American Process, Inc., Chuetsu Pulp & Paper Co., Ltd., Novozymes , Borregaard Chemcell, Daio Paper Corporation, Imerys, Kruger Bioproducts, Inc, Stora Enso Ltd., Ineos Bio, Innventia, Ashai Kasei Chemicals Corporation, Shanghai Rongou Chemical Technology Co., Ltd and Innventia AB,.

Key Developments

Increasing research and development activities related to nanocellulose is expected to boost the market growth. For instance, on September 06, 2019, researchers from University of Girona, Spain, reported development of bio-based superabsorbent aerogels made of cellulose nanofibers and proposed their potential use in baby diapers.

On September 01, 2019, researchers from Nanjing Forestry University reported the study of effects of chemical pretreatment on the purification of poplar (Populus tomentosa) catkin fiber and the effect of ultrasonic time for the microfibrillarization of poplar catkin fiber. The study reported development of nanocellulose aerogels by freeze drying the cellulose solutions.

In August 2019, researchers from Shandong Agricultural University reported that compared to the physical blending method, the chemical grafting method at 0.1 wt% nanocellulose addition results in the maximum improvement of the comprehensive properties of waterborne polyurethane coating.

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