Cellulose is everywhere
The world is awash with cellulose. It’s in the cells of every tree and plant in the natural living world, waste stockpiles and landfills in every community, and it’s readily available as an industrial commodity as wood, paper and cardboard pulp.
Molecular chains of hydroxyl groups create the miracle of cellulose. Each hydroxyl group comprises one oxygen and one hydrogen molecule (-OH). These molecular chains are held together by immense forces that give cellulose in all forms its versatility and functionality as a manufacturing material.
Image of the cellulose molecular chain
What makes a feedstock viable
Cellulosic feedstocks come in various forms, and each is unique in its cellular composition. Cellulose fibres can be derived from wood (hardwood and softwood), seed fibres (cotton, coir etc.), bast fibres (flax, hemp, jute, ramie etc.), grasses (bagasse, bamboo etc.), marine animals (tunicate), algae, fungi, invertebrates and bacteria. Wood is currently the most important industrial source of cellulose. Besides cellulose, it also contains hemicellulose, lignin and a comparably small amount of extractives and inorganic salts.
For a feedstock to be commercially viable, you need to consider a range of factors, including which feedstocks are available to you locally and the logistics and costs of acquiring them. To get a real sense of how much feedstock you require, you need to plan for production in the near and longer term. Other important considerations are the quality and condition they come in. Some feedstocks may require pre-sorting or pre-treatment before you can refine them mechanically. Of course, it’s also essential to consider the integrity and circularity of the supply chain from which your feedstock is derived.
Bamboo is an excellent and abundant feedstock
Why do you need to identify substitute feedstocks?
We also recommend that clients in production or considering investing in production take the time to identify alternative feedstocks. That is, it’s advisable to locate alternative feedstocks (not just suppliers) if your primary supply is disrupted. For example, suppose your primary feedstock is softwood pulp. It is essential to have an alternative source, such as ordinary corrugated cardboard pulp, if your supply of softwood is adversely affected.
At Zeo IP, we marvel at the mysteries of nature and the Earth. Our success comes from questioning conventional wisdom and unlocking the secrets of cellulose that others find mundane.
If you have any questions or want to book a free strategy session, don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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