Photo of MCC in laboratory by Adolfo Vera
  • ANDRITZ GROUP
  • PULP & PAPER products
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  • Kraft pulp
  • A-ConCrystal™continuous-process MCC technology

A-ConCrystal™ continuous-process microcrystalline cellulose technology

Value-added bio-products from the pulp mill

Microcrystalline cellulose – or MCC for short – is widely used for many purposes in a variety of industries, from the automotive industry’s uses in composites and plastics to cosmetic and pharmaceutical additives. To date, the production of microcrystalline cellulose has been limited to relatively small production plants operating in a batch process. The ANDRITZ A-ConCrystal™ continuous-process microcrystalline cellulose technology allows cost-effective, high-capacity production with remarkable synergy benefits when the MCC plant is integrated into a pulp mill.

Background

Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) is purified and partially depolymerized cellulose is obtained by treating alpha cellulose with mineral acids. It was originally developed in the 1950s in a search for a stronger rayon thread. Unfortunately, high production costs have restricted its use for decades, and although it is widely used in many applications in a variety of industries, the high cost is still a significant hindrance for potential users.

ANDRITZ A-ConCrystal™

The technology behind the A-ConCrystal™ process was developed at Aalto University in Finland. ANDRITZ has licensed the technology to implement it at full mill scale and commercialize it for the global market. Compared to traditional production methods, the A-ConCrystal™ process consumes significantly less acid, produces much less waste, and the reaction occurs at a much faster rate. This keeps the costs at a much lower level and makes large-scale production economically viable.

One of its key features is that, unlike the traditional methods based on batch processing, the A-ConCrystal™ process is continuous. This allows the process to be easily controlled during production, which in turn ensures high product quality throughout the process – the microcrystalline cellulose end product has been proven to fulfill pharmaceutical standards in tests conducted by an internationally recognized, independent test laboratory.

A-ConCrystal™Traditional
Acid consumption0.5–1.5%10–200%
Reaction time10–60 min.Hours
Consistency10–30%1–4%
Need for neutralizing agentLowHigh
Effluent amountLowHigh
TemperatureHotWarm
Hydrolysate recoveryYes (if integrated)No

Pulp mill integration

A unique capability of the ANDRITZ A-ConCrystal™ technology is the ability to be integrated into an existing pulp mill. With the synergy advantages offered by this type of integration, high production capacities are possible with low capital expenditure and operating expenses.

Integrating the technology into a pulp mill provides a platform that is self-sufficient in energy – unlike the previous production processes – and the by-products generated can be used to produce other bio-based chemicals such as different sugars and ethanol. The remaining wastewater can then be re-used in pulp production or directed to the pulp mill chemical recovery process.

Flexibility in raw materials

One of the key benefits of the A-ConCrystal™ process technology is its flexibility in terms of raw materials – it can handle dissolving or paper-grade pulp. The technology also makes it possible to produce special MCC varieties from unbleached pulp – so called brown MCC – which was not feasible previously.

Process flow description of A-ConCrystal plant when integrated with a pulp mill

The A-ConCrystal™ plant can be integrated easily into a pulp mill to achieve remarkable synergy benefits.

© ANDRITZ

New market opportunities

Currently, MCC is mainly used in pharmaceutical applications, such as adhesives and filler agents for tablets, and also as a rheology modifier, fiber source, and bulk agent in food applications. In industrial applications, it is used in paint rheology modifiers, oil drilling additives, and cosmetics. With the low production costs and high capacities made possible by the ANDRITZ A-ConCrystal™ technology, it is expected that new markets for MCC will open up where the high costs associated with previous production methods made it unviable.

Contact us to find out more about ANDRITZ A-ConCrystal™ technology and its many potential uses!

Potential uses for A-ConCrystal™ MCC technology

Potential uses in pharmaceuticals
PHARMACEUTICALS

Binding agent, disintegrant, filler, diluent, viscosity-adding agent, coatings. Tablets, capsules, pills. Suitable for various processing technologies.

Potential uses in food & beverages
FOOD AND BEVERAGES

Texturizer, anti-caking agent, emulsifier, bulking agent, stabilizer, viscosity modifier, dietary fiber. Improving flavor. Reducing fat and calorie intake.

Potential uses in cosmetics
SKIN CARE AND COSMETICS

Suspension aid, thickener, stabilizer. Volume, absorption, silkening effects. Substitute for PE beads, other microplastics. Transparency increase, opacifier.

Potential uses in animal feed
ANIMAL FEED

Feed for poultry and pigs. Aqua feed. Diet food for pets. Substitute for other feedstocks. Improvement of feedstock properties.

Potential uses in composites & plastics
COMPOSITES AND PLASTICS

Reinforcement agent. Composites.

Potential uses in the textile industry
TEXTILE INDUSTRY

Smart textiles with improved properties. Substitute in fossil-based textiles. Cotton substitute, viscose substitute.

Potential industrial uses
INDUSTRIAL USERS

Absorbent in paints. Rheology modifier in paints and coatings. Water treatment flocculant.

Future uses of AaltoCell™ technology
FUTURE POTENTIAL

Sound dampening. Absolute white/black. Many others.

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