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July 13, 2013

USDA Announces Public-Private Partnership to Advance Commercial Potential of Cellulosic Nanomaterial from Wood

Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 11, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a three-year public-private partnership intended to advance rapidly “the development of the first U.S. commercial facility producing cellulosic nanomaterial, a wood fiber broken down to the nanoscale.” The partnership is between the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) and the U.S. Forest Service. According to USDA, potential applications include ballistic glass replacements, body armor, auto and aerospace structural materials, flexible electronic circuits, and solar panels. The partnership seeks to overcome technical barriers to large-scale wood-based nanotechnology processing, while filling gaps in the science and technology that are needed for commercialization. The new venture will:

  • Emphasize the potential of wood- based nanotechnology for the economy and the environment;
  • Overcome technical barriers to commercialization of wood- based nanotechnology;
  • Demonstrate commitment to creating high paying jobs in rural America through value- added manufacturing and high value products; and
  • Showcase the commitment of USDA and the Forest Service to innovation.

The partnership is currently seeking additional public and private sector funding.