Announcement of the 2013 Marcus Wallenberg Prize

Dr. Derek Gray of McGill University awarded prestigious 2013 Marcus Wallenberg Prize at the FIBRE Network Conference for his cellulose nanocrystal research

CORNWALL, ON, May 14, 2013 /CNW/ - Dr. Derek Gray, holder of the NSERC/FPInnovations Industrial Research Chair at McGill University, is the 2013 Marcus Wallenberg Prize (MWP) recipient. The official award announcement was made today at the FIBRE Network Conference by Kaj Rosén, Executive Secretary of The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, which is based in Sweden. Dr. Gray receives the international award for his pioneering study of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC). Gray will travel to Stockholm in September to officially receive the prize from H.R. Carl XVI Gustaf the King of Sweden. Dr. Gray will also conduct a symposium on CNC and its importance to the forest industry.

"Through his research, Dr. Gray has shown that cellulose crystals in water suspensions align spontaneously in a specific pattern, in turn creating unique optical properties", said Kaj Rosén, MWP Foundation. "This discovery has extended the boundaries of the uses of forest raw material and in doing so has created the potential for a series of new products in the forest industry such as applications of films in "intelligent" packaging materials, printed electronic circuits on paper, surfacing and filler materials for paper and paperboard, inks and cosmetics and iridescent or magnetic films."

"The fact that Derek Gray receives the Marcus Wallenberg Prize is fantastic news and is a great way to begin the FIBRE Network Conference. Dr. Gray is a member of both the Sentinel Biocative Paper Network and ArboraNano. The MWP is considered by many to be the "Nobel Prize" in forest products research", said Theo van de Ven, Chair of FIBRE. "Dr. Gray is a world expert in cellulose chemistry and has already received other major awards this year such as the Anselme Payen Award of the ACS (American Chemical Society) Cellulose Division and the NSERC Synergy Award, together with Jean Bouchard of FPInnovations, Ron Crotogino of ArboraNano and Richard Berry of CelluForce. Derek is always the first to point out that his invention was a joint collaboration with other researchers, such as Jean-François Révol and Louis Godbout, and many of his students. He definitely deserves the credit. Not only was he one of the inventors of cellulose nanocrystals, but worked with his industrial colleagues to move the product to a small pilot scale in FPInnovations and to a larger scale at CelluForce."

About Cellulose Nanocrystal
Cellulose consists of both crystalline and amorphous elements. The amorphous elements can be removed via several types of chemical reaction, such as hydrolysis. The process results in the release of cellulose nanocrystal (CNC). CNC consists of rigid, needle-like cellulose crystals, measuring 3-10 nm across and 100-300 nm in length. Gray's discovery originates from basic research findings reported in 1951 by Bengt Rånby at Uppsala University and in 1959 by Robert Marchessault and others at McGill University, Montreal. In 1992, Derek Gray and his now deceased colleague Jean-Francois Revol resumed work on extracting NCC from wood. The basic findings of their work were published and patented between 1992 and 1997, inspiring intensive research into other possible applications of nanocellulose. Since 2003-2004, in particular, this has led to an explosion of publications by various research teams around the world.

About The Marcus Wallenberg Prize
The Marcus Wallenberg Prize (MWP) is an international prize that was established in 1980 to acknowledge the lifetime activities and the memory of Marcus Wallenberg, the late Chairman of Stora Kopparbergs Bergslags AB (now Stora Enso). Each year the Prize recognizes a single research breakthrough by one scientist or a small group of collaborating scientists. In the view of the Prize Selection Committee and the Board of the Foundation, the selected breakthrough will have a significant effect on the forestry and forest products industries. While rewarding the winner, the Prize is also intended to stimulate further research around the world. This year, the Prize will be given for the 30th time. The Prize sum is 2-million Swedish Krona (SEK) or the equivalent of more than $300,000.00 CAD.

About FIBRE -
FIBRE (Forest Innovation by Research & Education) is the organization that builds synergies among eight forest R&D networks in support of the priorities of Canada's vital forest sector innovation system. Each FIBRE network provides novel innovations to sustain and transform Canada's forest sector.

In 2011 the NSERC Strategic Networks launched FIBRE. Through deliberate alignment with the Canadian Forest Sector Transformation Strategy, FIBRE is a unique collaborative model that draws upon the capacity of the majority of the major Canadian universities, over 100 professors and 400 students.

FIBRE's mandate comes from a partnership comprised of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), FPInnovations, Natural Resources Canada and the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC).

Photographs and video footage of the MWP announcement are available at

Twitter:  #fibre  @FIBRECAN

Image with caption: "Dr. Derek Gray accepts The Marcus Wallenberg Prize from Professor Kaj Rosen, Executive Secretary of The Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (CNW Group/FIBRE - Forest Innovation by Research & Education)". Image available at:

SOURCE: FIBRE - Forest Innovation by Research & Education

For further information:

Jill Wright, FIBRE communications manager,   519.851.3896

Kaj Rosén, Executive Secretary, The Marcus Wallenberg Prize Foundation,  Tel: +46 (0)70 6697088 or visit

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FIBRE - Forest Innovation by Research & Education

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