Technological Centre

Obtaining nanocellulose, a faster and faster process thanks to REPACELL

At CETIM we succeeded in developing technologies that allow the automation and optimisation of micro and nanoparticles of a novel system for the production of nanocellulose from waste paper and cardboard.

REPACELL project, which sought through its research to automate and optimise the production of micro and nanoparticles of cellulose from recycled paper, came to an end last June. The project led by the company Syspro began in 2021 to improve the recycling process of cellulosic fibres by obtaining a high added value product, nanocellulose.

Nanocellulose is one of the main components of trees and plants.

Nanocellulose is a raw material with a wide range of valuable applications in many different industrial sectors. On the one hand, it is a completely biological and abundant material, as cellulose is one of the main components of trees and plants. On the other hand, its properties, such as its large surface area, high reactivity, barrier properties, firmness and lightness also make it a highly valued material in reinforcement or food packaging applications, among others.

Therefore, the main objective of REPACELL has been the research and development of systematised and automated processes to obtain cellulose nanofibres from the revaluation of waste paper and cardboard. To demonstrate their applicability, these cellulose micro and nanofibres were used to obtain new papers with improved mechanical properties.

An exemplary circular economy project

REPACELL has succeeded in obtaining micro and nanoparticles from paper and cardboard waste. The successful properties of these micro and nanoparticles have allowed their subsequent application in other products, thus contributing to a circular and bio-based economy.

Furthermore, this nanocellulose production process has been automated. To this end, CETIM has developed a virtual environment simulation of the Syspro pilot plant with the use of a digital twin, which has allowed an exhaustive analysis of the mass flows of the products, both between the tanks and between the different reactors of the facility. The results obtained show that production reaches the operating levels contemplated in the objectives initially established in the project, thus guaranteeing the efficiency and production capacity of the plant.

Simulation in a virtual environment carried out in the project.

Thanks to the research carried out at REPACELL, new solutions have been discovered for the automation and optimisation of the production process of a material with multiple possibilities, such as nanocellulose. The project has managed to valorise waste and increase the useful life of cellulosic fibres, thus increasing their sustainability and being a clear example of circular economy.