Fluid engineering specialist Sulzer has partnered with bio-based materials producer CELLiCON to scale up its manufacturing technology for nano structured cellulose – a highly sustainable, plant-based alternative to conventional polymers.
The company said the technology slashes the high costs and environmental footprint associated with nanocellulose, allowing it to be scaled and used as a building block for a wide variety of everyday products, from textiles to glues.
Sulzer added the partnership is part of its strategy to continue its growth in renewables - it has acquired a minority stake in CELLiCON with an option to increase its holding in future.
Cellulose is the most abundant biopolymer on the planet, and it is obtained from renewable plant-based resources.
Its crystalline form, also known as nanocrystalline structured cellulose (nanocellulose), is considered one of the most promising alternatives to conventional polymers which are derived from petroleum oil. The partnership will boost the scale up and commercialisation of nanocellulose as a sustainable alternative.
Nano structured cellulose is a building block for a variety of materials and products such as textiles and high-performance fibres, composities like superglues and coatings, transparent films, and replacements for starch and polystyrene.
CELLiCON has developed groundbreaking technology, known as G2 technology, that strongly reduces the costs, cycle times and environmental footprint associated with the production of nanocellulose, thereby enabling the large-scale adoption of this highly sustainable biopolymer.
Sulzer said it will support CELLiCON in the scale-up and commercialisation of the G2 technology.
It added the collaboration will help CELLiCON achieve its strategic goals and long-term vision while strengthening Sulzer Chemtech’s portfolio of processing technologies for bio-based and renewable feedstocks.
In particular, the solution can be used to further enhance the properties of polylactic acid (PLA), the most used bioplastic worldwide for which Sulzer is the global leader.
Paul O’Connor, co-founder, and director at CELLiCON, said: “We are very pleased that Sulzer Chemtech has given this commitment to support our business. Partnering with a company that shares a similar philosophy and approach to driving sustainable manufacturing and has extensive experience in processing technology is key, as it will support this new chapter as we seek to maximise value for customers worldwide.”
Daniel Rytz, head of strategy and business development at Sulzer, added: “We are thrilled to support CELLiCON and further drive the global adoption of greener materials produced with sustainable processes. With our extensive know-how in scaling up technologies, we are an ideal partner for innovative companies like CELLiCON. This collaboration is a further step in our strategy to enable circular, eco-conscious manufacturing and processing practices on a global scale."