Using Micro- and Nanofibrillated Cellulose as a Means to Reduce Weight of Paper Products: A Review

Franklin Zambrano, Heather Starkey, Yuhan Wang, Camilla Abbati de Assis, Richard Venditti, Lokendra Pal, Hasan Jameel, Martin A. Hubbe, Orlando J. Rojas, Ronalds Gonzalez


Based on publications related to the use of micro- and nanofibrillated cellulose (MNFC) in papermaking applications, three sets of parameters (intrinsic and extrinsic variables, furnish composition, and degree of dispersion) were proposed. This holistic approach intends to facilitate understanding and manipulation of the main factors describing the colloidal behavior in systems comprising of MNFC, pulp fibers, and additives, which directly impact paper product performance. A preliminary techno-economic assessment showed that cost reductions driven by the addition of MNFC in paper furnishes could be as high as USD 149 per ton of fiber (up to 20% fiber reduction without adverse effects on paper's strength) depending on the cost of papermaking fibers. It was also determined that better performance in terms of strength development associated with a higher degree of MNFC fibrillation offset its high manufacturing cost. However, there is a limit from which additional fibrillation does not seem to contribute to further strength gains that can justify the increasing production cost. Further research is needed regarding raw materials, degree of fibrillation, and combination with polyelectrolytes to further explore the potential of MNFC for the reduction of weight of paper products.


Micro- and nanofibrillated cellulose (MNFC); Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC); Nanofibrillated cellulose (NFC); CNF; CMF; Tensile strength; Fiber reduction; Light-weight paper; Paper products; Retention aids; Cellulose fibers

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