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1. (WO2019048616) INLINE DILUTION OF MICROFIBRILLATED CELLULOSE
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Claims

A process for the dilution of microfibri Hated cellulose, from a solids content in the range of 5 % weight by weight ("w/w") - 50 % w/w, preferably 5 % w/w - 30 % w/w, further preferably 5 % w/w - 15 % w/w, down to a solids content of below 7 % w/w, preferably below 5 % w/w, preferably to a solids content of 0.01 % w/w - 5 % w/w, further preferably to a solids content of 0.1 % w/w - 3 % w/w, wherein said process at least comprises the following steps:

(i) providing microfibrillated cellulose in a solvent, wherein the solids content is in the range of 5 % weight by weight ("w/w") - 50 % w/w, preferably 5 % w/w - 30 % w/w, further preferably 5 % w/w - 15 % w/w;

(ii) subjecting said microfibrillated cellulose from step (i) to a dilution step in a rotor- stator mixer;

(iii) simultaneously to step (ii): injecting solvent into the rotor-stator mixer, or into a volume segment upstream of the rotor-stator mixer, in order to lower the solids content of the microfibrillated cellulose in the rotor-stator mixer.

The process according to claim 1 wherein the dilution process of step (ii) occurs in the volume segment defined between at least one stator and at least one rotor.

The process according to claim 1 or claim 2 wherein, in step (ii), the microfibrillated cellulose is subjected to an energy input of from 1 kWh/ton dry MFC - 1000 kWh/ton dry MFC, preferably from 10 kWh/ton dry MFC - 700 kWh/ton dry MFC, further preferably from 100 kWh/ton dry MFC - 400 kWh/ton dry MFC.

The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein, in step (ii), the retention time of the MFC in the rotor-stator mixer is from 0.01 to 30 sec, preferably from 0.02 to 1 sec, further preferably from 0.02 to 0.2 sec.

The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the tip speed of the rotors in the rotor-stator mixer is from 10 m/s to 100 m/s, preferably from 30 m/s to 60 m/s.

The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein step (ii) leads to an increase in PEG viscosity, in particular an enhanced thickening effect in a PEG-water-MFC suspension.

The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the water retention capacity of the microfibri Hated cellulose after step (ii) is higher than the water retention capacity of the microfibrillated cellulose as initially provided in step (i)-

The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said microfibrillated cellulose comprises "fibrils" having a diameter in the nanometer range and a length in the micrometer range, preferably wherein the microfibrillated cellulose is not physically modified.

The process according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the solvent essentially consists of water, i.e. comprises at least 90%, preferably at least 95%, further preferably at least 99% of water.

0. A system for the dilution of microfibrillated cellulose, from a solids content in the range of 5% weight by weight ("w/w") - 50 % w/w, preferably 5% w/w - 30 % w/w, further preferably 5% w/w - 15 % w/w, down to a solids content of below 7 % w/w, preferably below 5% w/w, preferably to a solids content of 0.01 % w/w - 5 % w/w, further preferably to a solids content of 0.1 % w/w - 3% w/w, wherein said system at least comprises the following components:

• at least one rotor-stator mixer (2);

• at least one line (1 ) for feeding microfibrillated cellulose into at least one volume segment of said rotor-stator mixer;

• at least one process line (3) for injecting solvent into said at least one volume segment of said rotor-stator mixer, or into a volume segment upstream of the rotor-stator mixer .

1 1. The system according to claim 10, wherein the at least one rotor-stator mixer (2) comprises a restriction element, preferably an adjustable valve downstream of the mixing volume segment of the rotor-stator mixer to establish a counter-pressure.

12. The system according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the rotor-stator mixer includes at least one rotor which rotates at high speed inside at least one stationary stator, which stator is interchangeable.

The system according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the at least one stator comprises cylindrical screens.

Use of diluted microfibrillated cellulose obtained or obtainable according to any one of claims 1 - 9 or obtained with a system according to any one of claims 10 -13 in or as coatings, adhesives, (surface) sizes, paints, inks, de-icing fluids or additives, thixotropic additives, emulsifier / emulsion aid; viscosity adjustment, additive in oil field applications, in particular drilling fluids, in home care / personal care / personal hygiene applications, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications, in particular in ointments, emulsions or high viscosity liquids, as an additive or aid in medical devices or medical applications, in particular scar and wound care, agrochemicals, food applications, for example as thickener, dietary supplement, non-caloric additive, emulsifier etc., in printing applications, including 3-D printing, in composite materials, for example plastics, rubber or paper-based materials, cardboards etc., in or as porous material, foam or aerogel / hydrogel; in separation technologies, including filter elements, membranes, separators etc., in film forming applications, in battery technology and/or flexible electronics, in textile application and/or as filaments, including yarns, non-wovens, meshes etc., as an additive or adjuvant in construction commodities, including cement, concrete, gypsum boards, and the like.

Process according to any one of claims 1 - 13, wherein the microfibrillated cellulose is prepared by a process, which comprises at least the following steps:

(a) subjecting a cellulose pulp to at least one mechanical pretreatment step;

(b) subjecting the mechanically pretreated cellulose pulp of step (a) to a

homogenizing step, which results in fibrils and fibril bundles of reduced length and diameter vis-a-vis the cellulose fibers present in the mechanically pretreated cellulose pulp of step (a), said step (b) resulting in microfibrillated cellulose;

wherein the homogenizing step (b) involves compressing the cellulose pulp from step (a) and subjecting the cellulose pulp to a pressure drop.