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Posted Tue Aug 28 2012: from New Scientist, via Paul Smedberg:
Nanocrystalline Cellulose (NCC): Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material
Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. Japan-based Pioneer Electronics is applying it to the next generation of flexible electronic displays. IBM is using it to create components for computers. Even the US army is getting in on the act, using it to make lightweight body armour and ballistic glass.... So why all the fuss? Well, not only is NCC transparent but it is made from a tightly packed array of needle-like crystals which have a strength-to-weight ratio that is eight times better than stainless steel. Even better, it's incredibly cheap. "It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price," says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana.... "Anyone who makes a car or a plastic bag will want to get in on this," he says. In addition, the human body can deal with cellulose safely, says Jones, so NCC is less dangerous to process than inorganic composites. "The worst thing that could happen is a paper cut," he says.
[Read more stories about: efficiency increase, technological innovation, sustainability]

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