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Composites of nanocellulose and fibrous clay with special properties

CSIC scientists have obtained a material which combines nanocellulose and fibrous clays. It can be specifically modified for different applications. Similar to paper, the material can be used to obtain special papers such as bank notes, antimicrobial packages for food products, conductor or magnetic papers.


Film composed of nanofibers of cellulose and clay (sepiolite).Nanocellulose has a huge potential. It is light, transparent, strong and biocompatible. A few years ago, it appeared on the technological scene as one of the most promising materials. There are three types of nanocellulose: nanocellulose microfibers, nanocrystalline cellulose and bacterial cellulose.

A team of scientists at the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid of the CSC has developed a composite material that combines nanocellulose, in any of its three forms, with special fibrous clay like sepiolite. The material and the production method have been patented by the CSIC.

During the production method, the nanocellulose and the fibrous clay are combined as highly viscous hydrogels. Other molecules can be added to provide the material with new characteristics. As the pores of the clay homogeneously ‘capture’ these additives, the material can be functioned in a homogeneous way with new characteristics depending on the additive. For instance, color, when pigments are added; conductivity, with carbon nanotubes; magnetism, with iron oxide nanoparticles; or antimicrobial properties, when an antibacterial compound is added. Nanocellulose.

Afterwards, the obtained gel can be transformed into a stable and homogeneous material in three forms: layers, bars or nanofibers in suspension.

Among their uses, it can be highlighted all kinds of special papers; thickening agents (in the case of a suspension of nanofibers); food products and drugs in human and veterinary medicine; or flame retardants.  

The production method is safe and environmentally friendly. Scientists are working to diversify and adapt the process at different scales. Among its advantages, scientists explain that it is an ecological and simply process that preserves the characteristics of the materials.


Marisa Carrascoso Arranz
Vicepresidencia Adjunta de
Transferencia del Conocimiento- CSIC
Tel.: + 34 – 91 568 15 33 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.