The aim of the HIPERION project is the sustainable production of different types of nanocellulose, such as microfibrillated cellulose (MFC), cellulose nano-fibrils (CNF), nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) and bacterial nanocellulose (BNC), for the development of high performance nanoscale industrial materials. The structural components of lignocellulosic biomass will be converted to MFC, CNF and NCC through novel thermochemical and mechanical processes. Also, sugars will be recovered from lignocellulosic biomass and will be applied in novel fermentation processes for the production of BNC through bacterial cultures. In addition, the project will focus on the exploitation of renewable raw materials (side-streams of conventional industrial branches, plant / residual biomass, organic fraction of municipal waste) through the development of bio-refineries and the utilization of free sugars and hemicellulose hydrolyzate from different types of biomass. The structure of the produced nanocellulose will be studied extensively at microscopic and macroscopic scale in order to optimize its properties.
MFC, NCF, NCC and BNC will be incorporated into polymer / biodegradable matrices, aiming at the enhancement of the blocking efficiency of the nanocomposites, the modification of the surface for the development of new products and the assessment of the environmental impact. In particular, the produced nanocellulose (MFC, CNF, NFC and BNC) will be utilized for the development of nanocomposite materials and will be applied as barrier enhancers in food packaging.
For the evaluation of the final products, a thorough release study of the substances / particles through the polymer matrices will be carried out in food simulants, using certified methodologies and specially designed cells/devises. Also, the produced types of nanocellulose will be applied as additives to optimize the properties of paper-based packaging materials, while selected types of nanocellulose will be used as performance enhancers for composite wood glues, but also as protective coatings of woody products.