The use of nano-size materials in several commercial applicatiosn has been the subject of much research and development activity for several years. Recent estimates of global sales of nano-size materials are mostly in the $5 billion range. Applications for nano-size materials have been shown to exist in many sectors such as health and personal care, electronics, energy, and others. It is likely that the beneficial uses of nano-size materials will grow at a high rate.
The importance of this area (nanotechnology) is reflected in that the United States Government maintains a separate website devoted to the area. Click here to go to that website and to read much on nanotechnology and its current and potential applications.
Many materials (for example, carbons, metal oxides, and ceramics) can be processed to become nano-size (and in doing so acquire the unique properties that provide new, useful uses). Cellulose is also a material that can be processed into the “nano” state. As for other materials, much research and development is ongoing to discover better ways of processing cellulose into nanocellulose and to advance the applications of nanocellulose.
Nanocellulose is finding its way into commercial products, such as packaging, but still at a low level, probably at most a few hundred million dollars of sales a year. A National Nanotechnology Institute/USDA Forest Service report provides information on commercializing nanocellulose. Click here to read this report (PDF file).