From Lab Notes
Contact Information
Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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High Performance Nano-Cellulose Composites

Transparent Composites for Defense Applications

ID: FPL-044
All USDA Forest Service
2011 Research Highlights


  • Cellulose nano-crystals (CNC) and cellulose nano-fibrils (CNF) provide strength properties equivalent to Kevlar and can be used in optically clear applications like composite windshields.
  • The Forest Products Laboratory is supporting a project at the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, MD, to produce and evaluate primarily clear composites as reinforced glass.

Overview: The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) has been working for three years on producing cellulose nanocrystals and the strongest and optically clearest versions of cellulose nano-fibrils. In 2009, FPL was approached by the Army Research Laboratory to help with a project producing optically clear composites. Because of the needs for larger amounts of materials, FPL began a scale-up project to produce both CNC and CNF at kilogram scales. FS Research provided additional funds for the pilot equipment needed to increase the process scale to about 20 kg. The Army Research Laboratory has been blending CNC and CNF in various resins, focusing on polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) as the initial base resin because it provides optically clear panels and films and can be solvent cast. They have succeeded in incorporating CNC in electro-spun PMMA nano-fibers at 40 weight percent CNC. The electro-spinning process aligns the CNC in the fiber and maintains the dispersion. This enables researchers to laminate sheets with extra PMMA, producing composite sheets. Final sheets contained 1 weight percent CNC and maintained optical clarity.

Principal Investigator(s)

Rudie, Alan W.

Supervisory Research Chemist
Partnerships & Science Strategy Affiliations
Research Emphasis Area (FPL)Nanotechnology
Advanced Composites
US Forest Service PartnersNone
External PartnersJames Snyder, Hong Dong, Joshua Steele, Ken Strawhecker, and Joshua Orlicki - U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MDSteele, Ken Strawhecker, and Joshua Orlicki)
Strategic Program Area (US Forest Service R&D)Resource Management and Use
Emerging Research Area (US Forest Service R&D)Nanotechnology
Significant Publications pertaining to this Research Highlight

No publications for this research highlight are available at this time.

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