Interest in cellulose nanocrystals (CNC)/cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) made from woody biomass has been growing rapidly with close attention from pulp and paper industry, governments, universities, and research institutes. Many new products development with CNCs have been studied intensively. However, little life-cycle analysis (LCA) has been conducted for the environmental impact from these nano-material-containing products and their associated production. Life-cycle analysis can identify environmental "hotspots", which can guide process design changes leading to reductions in the environmental footprint of nanocellulose production. A preliminary LCA was conducted on pilot-scale nanocellulose production at USDA Forest Product Laboratory. The nanocellulose produced at FPL has been tested in many applications, including coatings, microelectronics, high-strength transparent plastic composites, etc. Soon these applications will require the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI)/LCA from the raw material CNC for their new products' environmental impact analysis. Therefore, our LCA studies on nanocellulose production are critical and will be the foundation for further analysis as new products are commercialized.
Gu, Hongmei; Reiner, Richard; Bergman, Richard; Rudie, Alan. 2015. LCA Study for pilot scale production of cellulose nano crystals (CNC) from wood pulp. In: Proceedings from the LCA XV Conference - A bright green future. 6-8 October 2015. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. p. 33-42.