Cellulose is the most important structural component in all green plants and many forms of algae. It is also secreted by some bacteria, and tunicates - a group of marine animals - have an exoskeleton composed of cellulose. Utilization of cellulose goes way back, and we are surrounded by cellulose-based materials of many kinds in our everyday life. Still, development of cellulose-based materials and additives is high on the agenda because this will contribute to transition to a biobased economy. NORCELlab addresses sustainable processing and refining of biobased raw materials (blue, green, and waste streams) and development of products based on this, to strengthen research and development within the green shift.
The laboratory will secure that the cellulose research in Norway is in the international forefront and facilitate realization of the commercial potential in utilization of cellulose-based materials, i.e., micro- and nanocelluloses, regenerated cellulose and derivatives thereof. The infrastructure will represent completely new research possibilities, allowing for internationally leading research on production, characterization, and applications for cellulosic building blocks.
The toolbox in NORCELlab includes advanced instrumentation and analysis equipment in addition to laboratory equipment for simulating industrial production methods and prototype manufacturing. Hence, the lab will secure research on fundamental level and development of products closer to industrialization. Examples are plastic substitutes with controlled degradation rate in nature that can replace fossil-based ones. Within medicine and healthcare, NORCELlab is expected to give positive impact on the daily lives of patients, leading to treatment of number of diseases.
Users from different areas of science and industry will come together in this focused and centralized lab and constitute a creative environment that will be a basis for education, excellent research, and knowledge-building
The applied funding for infrastructure to establish NORCELlab will provide internationally leading laboratory facilities to secure that Norwegian micro- and nanocellulose research is in the international forefront and facilitate realization of the high commercial potential in utilization of cellulose-based materials. Our vision is that the Norwegian Cellulose Laboratory shall be the fundament for developing new, and further improve and upscale existing processes for production of cellulosic building blocks, as well as developing novel applications of cellulose in a wide range of fields, for production and commercialization in Norway. The main goal is that NORCELlab shall be a national infrastructure for micro- and nanocellulose research, accessible to national stakeholders, for the development of processes for sustainable production of micro- and nanocelluloses and their derivatives, and applications thereof.
The laboratory will comprise three categories of infrastructure: i) production and processing of micro- and nanocelluloses, ii) production of cellulose-based materials and structures and iii) characterization of cellulosic building blocks and structures made thereof. NORCELlab will comprise highly sophisticated and specialized equipment within these three categories. The laboratory will be accessible for national and international research partners and industries. RISE PFI has close cooperation with NTNU within the field of cellulose research, and NTNU will be an important user.
NORCELlab will be a unique infrastructure at the highest international level within an area of high commercial interest, and where Norway has excellent opportunities for taking a leading position in industrialization and value-adding. The infrastructure is highly focused, it is coordinated by the internationally recognized research group at RISE PFI, and it gives very interesting opportunities for a wide variety of industries within many different application areas.