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BASF to collaborate on cellulose production

By Joe Whitworth , 18-Jan-2013

BASF has entered into a deal with Zelfo Technology for the production of micro-fibrillated cellulose (MFC) which allows strength improvement and weight reduction in paper-based packaging.

The technology concerns the engineering of superior micro-fibrillated cellulose, also known as nanofibrillated cellulose, which is used to produce a variety of paper, board and tissue products.

The agreement for the transfer of intellectual property rights will address the need for lighter, stronger paper-based packaging, according to BASF.

No financial details were disclosed for the deal which was signed in Basel, Switzerland this week.

BASF focus

BASF said its expertise in chemistry is essential for MFC technology to function efficiently on an industrial scale and to support the use of cellulosic, recyclable and biodegradable materials.

The firm added it hopes to further improve Zelfo’s fibre technology through a range of chemical additives for paper making.

Uwe Liebelt, president of BASF’s paper chemicals division said the cooperation combines BASF’s chemistry with Zelfo Technology’s know-how and patented process.  

He added that with the firms working together to scale-up the technology they are uniquely positioned to address the needs of the packaging industry for increased recyclability coupled with superior performance.

Differing benefits

BASF will focus on all applications related to paper, board, packaging and tissue.

Zelfo Technology will continue its activities in non VOC emitting binders and bio-composite based applications.

“Our recently concluded agreements with BASF will accelerate the full industrial scale-up of the process for the benefit of both companies,” said Richard Hurding, CEO of Zelfo Technology.

“By offering enhanced cellulosic materials such as MFC, not only wood pulp but also recycled pulp and agricultural cellulose waste can all be upgraded to produce superior pulp additive grades for better products and more sustainable packaging.”

In a review of MFC published in Carbohydrate Polymers Julien Bras et al suggests that it could be the answer to society’s requirements for improved packaging.

Its renewability makes it a subject of intense interest as an alternative material in the current oil crisis. Its biodegradability is a response to environmental laws and waste management problems. Finally, its barrier property reinforcement offers superior protection and preservation of products, and could thus help to improve the shelf-life of food.”

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