An article dated August 24 from New Scientist magazine profiles “the hottest new material in town,” known as nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), produced by highly specialized processes from purified wood pulp. “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.” The article states that the U.S. Forest Service has built a $1.7 million factory in Madison, Wisconsin that will produce two types of this material; and another (much larger) plant in Montreal, which opened a year ago, is now producing a ton a day.
According to reporter Will Ferguson, tech customers are already using it to create various computer components, and the U.S. Army is adapting it for lightweight body armor and ballistic glass. He reports the National Science Foundation’s prediction that NCC will become a $600 billion industry by 2020. More at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528786.100-why-wood-pulp-is-worlds-new-wonder-material.html