Gas-driven technology for cost-efficient production of cellulose nanocrystals (H-Cel)

A flexible, modular process for carboxylated CNCs, carboxylated nanofibrils and MCC.

This is a Research to Business project funded by Business Finland.
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H-Cel project focuses on the commercialization of a novel production process for nanocellulose materials, particularly cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs). The state-of-the-art production of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) is based on hydrolysis of cellulosic fibers in concentrated aqueous acid. By contrast, the H-Cel technology is based on a solid/gas system which enables the acid hydrolysis with minimal chemical consumption and high yield of cellulose. Subsequently, catalytic oxidation is used to disperse the hydrolyzed cellulose to CNCs. The process is feedstock agnostic: not only suitable to wood, cotton and bacterial cellulose but also to waste materials like brewer’s spent grain and potato fiber. H-Cel is a flexible technology and enables the production of CNCs with tailored features. 


Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) is a product which with numerous enduses. Potential application areas of CNCs include nanocomposites, flexible electronics, piezoelectric sensors, medical applications, oil / gas drilling and completion fluids, cement manufacturing, automotive parts, biomedicals, adhesives, catalysts, hydrogels, viscosity modifiers, sensors and many others.


The conventional CNC production process is based on aqueous sulfuric acid hydrolysis at 64 % concentration. The high price of CNCs has discouraged much of the industry to take a genuine interest on CNCs and its possibilities. Moreover, the state-of-the-art process to produce CNC is not environmentally viable.


H-Cel is a technology to produce cost effectively and sustainably CNCs for all the mentioned applications. H-Cel is a scalable technology and the source in the form of plant-based cellulose is abundantly available. Thus, when the demand starts to increase, the supply can be increased as well.

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Status of the project

  • Industrial setup for production of carboxylated CNCs

Patenting status

  • Patent application in EP, US and CN
  • Priority date May 10, 2019


Innovation advisor Janne Raula

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