Supercritical Crystalline Cellulose (SC3)


The promise and potential of the Plantrose Process has always been greater than just affordable cellulosic sugars...

Introducing Supercritical Crystalline Cellulose

At our start, Renmatix was dedicated to producing industrial sugars (from cellulose) and clean lignin for large, commodity-priced markets. Through continuous investment, we have advanced our technology platform, enabling us to produce a third cellulosic fraction called Supercritical Crystalline Cellulose (SC3). This optimized, new, specialty ingredient serves smaller, high-value markets.

Building on our success in converting plants to sugar economically, we are using the same Plantrose Process, hydrolyzing non-food plant material, but without breaking it down quite as far. By stopping the process earlier, we create our own proprietary form of Crystalline Cellulose (CC) via supercritical water. As we explored economics for the launch of this new ‘product’, Supercritical Crystalline Cellulose, in our expanding portfolio, we identified exciting opportunities in multiple markets to engage in the full development of specialty products (a departure from wholesaling commodity building blocks, as in the past with our cellulosic sugars). We are actively engaging with partners to do just that (learn more here).

How is SC3 Isolated?

After disassembling plant parts during Renmatix’s proprietary supercritical hydrolysis, those particles come out of the supercritical phase and reprecipitate into a crystalline phase. By adjusting operating conditions, the same versatile Plantrose technology produces these different outputs. Rather than converting cellulose all the way down to sugar, intermediate products can be isolated mid-process. By doing so, we accomplish an efficient production of this additional fraction, a new and different material – Supercritical Crystalline Cellulose. In fact, because some material gets “under cooked” in a typical Plantrose reaction – Renmatix always had the potential to make SC3, we just hadn't unlocked its valuable benefits.

SC3 - Fundamentally Different

Crystalline Cellulose, as an ingredient, is not new in the market. It occurs most commonly as a by-product of highly refined paper pulp and is often used as a binder in pharmaceuticals. In particular, microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) can be found in pills, like what you would take for a headache, as the compressible, non-active, white powder, mixed with acetaminophen. SC3 is different from MCC in that it is wholly originated from raw plants, not from processed pulp. SC3 also has a different particle size and forms a suspension in water to create a unique hydrogel, which has unique benefits, whereas MCC tends to occur as a solid in water lacking the same gel-like structure. [So, although conventional crystalline cellulose is not a perfect point of comparison, chemically it is an appropriate reference point.]

Because the two materials are produced with two different processes, they possess different properties. SC3 contains lignin, a known stabilizer, to achieve some of its distinct attributes, and maintains a natural beige color. The ability to blend with lignin, and at tailored rates, allows for increasingly robust grades of SC3 that can perform in more demanding applications and harsher operating conditions, like higher temperatures. 

Advantaged & Adaptable

Because SC3 has different particles than conventional Crystalline Cellulose, it is categorized differently and exhibits distinct advantages in: gelling, rheology modification, and emulsification. While conventional Crystalline Cellulose is composed of long cylindrical rods, fibrous like slivers, SC3 is globular, with smooth, rounded particles that significantly increase the surface area for reactivity and can in some instances provide a very fine polish. SC3’s flexible texture and tactile profile can be adjusted to best suit targeted applications in different markets. These attributes are well suited to categories that need emulsifiers, rheology modifiers, and humectants.