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Jan 5,2017 --Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd. (President: Fumio Manoshiro; hereinafter, "NPI") announced to build a demonstration plant at Fuji Mill (Fuji, Shizuoka) to promote practical applications of CNF-reinforced resin. CNF-reinforced resin is obtained by mixing CNF into resin, such as polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), and nylon. The facility is scheduled to start its operation in June 2017. The annual production of CNF-reinforced resin will be more than 10 tons. Samples will be provided for various area of industries, including automobiles, building materials, and home appliances.

Cellulose nanofiber (CNF), made from wood pulp defibrated in nano scale, is known to have many outstanding properties; such as lightweight, high elastic modulus and good thermal dimensional stability, and more.. CNF is expected to be a promising new material which makes resin composite highly strong and weigh less. Because CNF, however, is highly hydrophilic, it is technically difficult to disperse uniformly into resin or other materials. It was a challenge to turn CNF hydrophobic.

NPI has been participating in the Kyoto University-based project*1 for New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), to work on the development of CNF-reinforced resin. This project is engaged in developing an effective pulp hydrophobilization method and production methods for an inexpensive and high-quality CNF-reinforced resin by defibrating pulp into nano scale when mixing it with resin. Based on the findings obtained through this the project, NPI has decided to establish mass-production technology of CNF-reinforced resin and will promote application development.

NPI will reorganize its research and development structure and transfer the base of CNF research, where a center for CNF application development, to Fuji Mill in the second half of 2017. NPI has already been building CNF industrial scale demonstration facilities according to each application at two locations: Ishinomaki Mill (Ishinomaki, Miyagi) and Chemical Division Gotsu Mill (Gotsu, Shimane). Since CNF-reinforced resin is expected to be used for automotive applications in Kanto and Chubu regions, NPI will accelerate its commercialization of the CNF-reinforced resin through demonstration production at Fuji Mill.

Note 1 : "Development of Manufacturing Processes for Chemical Products Derived from Non-edible Plants / Development of the Technology for the Continuous Production Process of Ligno Cellulose Nanofibers and Their Applications for the Structural Members"

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