“To reinvigorate the Canadian pulp and paper industry, we must develop innovative, green wood fibres products by introducing new functionalities/properties such as fire-retardance and heat-resistance to the fibres” says Gates.
Rendering cellulose fibre fire retardant is the research goal of Prof. Derek Gates and his team. Prof. Gates is an Associate Professor in the Chemistry department at UBC with interdisciplinary research spanning the areas of inorganic chemistry, polymer chemistry, materials chemistry and catalysis.
One potential product that can quickly benefit from this research is cellulose insulation which currently accounts for 7 million tons/y in North America but is only 15% of the total market.
“Clearly, opportunities exist for developing wood fibres as high performance insulation materials to replace the non-renewable, high embodied-energy insulation materials such as fibre glass and polyurethane foams in the construction of green buildings such as Net-Zero Energy Home” Gates explains.
Funding for this research is from the NSERC Green Fibre Network (http://www.greenfibrenetwork.ca/). For information on Prof. Gates (http://www.chem.ubc.ca/personnel/faculty/gates/index.shtml)
Photos by Martin Dee.