Cellulose nanofibers promise significant weight reduction


Cellulose fibers have come under increasing focus as reinforcing materials for plastics of late and R&D activity in the field is not only limited to North America. A joint effort between industry, academia and the public sector has realized plant-derived cellulose nanofibers exhibiting a high degree of compatibility towards polypropylene (PP) and other resins, opening up opportunities for lightweighting in vehicles.

Cellulose nanofiber (CNF) obtained from the pulp use in manufacturing paper have been surface-modified to enable uniform dispersion in a PP matrix, thereby boosting strength by a factor of up to four and reducing the coefficient of thermal expansion by 80%. The developers, headed by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and including include DIC, Mitsubishi Chemical, Oji Paper, and Kyoto University, estimate that if employed as a reinforcing material in the approximately 110 kg of plastic parts used in a typical motor vehicle, an approximately 20-kg weight reduction would be possible....
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