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A nanotechnology roadmap for the forest products industry

Final Report Summary - NANOFOREST (A nanotechnology roadmap for the forest products industry)

Though industrial exploitation of nanotechnology is still in its infancy, the rate of technology implementation is increasing, not least as a result of the substantial private and public Research and development (R&D) investments directed towards this new field of technology. The objective of the project was to outline a research and development roadmap and to recognise new and emerging developments in nanotechnology and related areas suitable for practical application in the forest products sector.

The main effort in NANOFOREST has been to identify the intersections between current and emerging nanotechnology, and tractable areas within the forest products industry sector. The conceptual guidelines used have focused on nanotechnology research and development with regard to wood products, pulp, paper, board and new uses of cellulose fibres. The view has been both on possibilities to increase the performance of more traditional end-products and to perform further product refinements to give new fibre-based platforms for developments targeted to new materials and packaging.

To address the opportunities and challenges associated with the exploration of nanotechnology, a forest products industry oriented network of European scientists and industry personnel is highly desirable. The advent of new technologies for the characterisation of the fibre structure on the nano-level opens hitherto unthought-of opportunities. However, the scientific equipment necessary to reach the desired results is expensive and requires highly skilled personnel, and hence limited in accessibility.

Some of the nanotechnology areas are inherently cross-disciplinary and networking can be a means to bring together technology and personnel, creating the intellectual critical mass as well as the necessary cross-disciplinary melting pots. The forest products industry will thus be given an opportunity to increase its awareness of technical and scientific nanotechnology progress in for instance the polymer, biotechnology and microelectronics fields.

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