Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC)


Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures (AITF) operates one of the world's few high-volume Cellulose Nanocrystals (CNC) pilot plants, capable of producing kilogram amounts of high-quality material daily. The corporation is currently working with partners in industry, academia and other Science and Technology organizations on a wide range of CNC-related projects. We hope, after learning more about AITF's pilot plant and the significant work our talented researchers are doing, you'll consider collaborating with us. Interested?

Put our expertise, experience, technologies and networks to work for you

Team Leader

Behzad (Benji) Ahvazi, PhD
Tel: 780.450.5488
  Pilot Plant Lead Technologist

Frank Tosto
Tel: 780.450.5213
  Business Development

Gordon Giles
Tel: 780.450.5411


What is CNC?

NCC Stem

  • Nano-scale crystals made from cellulose
  • Rod-shaped particles
  • Produced through an acid hydrolysis process
  • Renewable, recyclable and biodegradable
  • Forms stable suspensions in water
  • High crystalline structure
  • High potential for surface modification
  • Excellent mechanical properties

CNC is a nanoparticle of cellulose liberated from wood pulp by treatment with a strong acid. Cellulose is the most abundant polymer on earth and is made by plants. Traditional uses include textiles, paper, and even dimensional lumber and panel products, as cellulose gives wood its strength.  CNC was discovered as far back as 1950, but recent efforts around the world have focused on scale-up to further study the unique properties of CNC.

Physical properties of CNC
Powdered CNC

  • Appearance: white powder or flakes
  • Particle length: 100-200 (nm)
  • Particle diameter: 5-15 nm
  • Specific surface area: 200-300 m2/g
  • Density: 1.6 g/cm3
  • Crystallinity index: >80%
  • Zeta potential in deionized water: <-50 mV
  • Onset of degradation temperature: 250ºC

Intellectual Property/Patents

AITF takes a flexible approach to the development and maintenance of intellectual property.  This allows us to work with a variety of partners, collaborators and clients and tailor an approach that works best for all involved.  The intellectual property held by AITF related to CNC involves CNC being used as an additive, thickening the material that it is mixed into to control the viscosity profile over a large range of sheer rates. By doing so, CNC will impact the material's ability to flow which may be useful for certain applications.  By way of example, the technology claimed under this intellectual property can be applied to drilling fluids, anti-icing fluids, paints and coatings. AITF has significant internal expertise and capacity in these areas, and remains very interested in pursuing relationships to further CNC’s use in a variety of applications.


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