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Nathalie Lavoine

Asst Professor

Biltmore Hall (Robertson Wing) 1022F



  • Ph.D. in Materials Science
    Laboratory of Pulp and Paper Science and Graphic Art, (France), 2013
  • M.S. in Paper Science & Engineering
    International School of Paper, Print Media and Biomaterials (France), 2010

Research Interest

  • High performance tailored cellulose nanomaterials
  • Active and intelligent packaging
  • Heat and mass transfers in nanoporous structures
  • Sustainable materials processing

Current Research Projects

  • Woven matrix with inherent and reconstructable thermophysiological responsive attributes for improved sleep performance – Project in collaboration with the Wilson College of Textiles, NCSU
  • Biodegradable and recyclable paper-based alternative to single-use plastic products – Project in collaboration with the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, NCSU
  • Advanced functional coatings from renewable resources for wood-based panels – Project in collaboration with the University of Kastamonu, Turkey
  • Production, characterization, and optimization of high-lignin content cellulose nanofibrils from unbleached wood pulp
  • Thermally insulating and fire-retardant foams from lignocellulosic biomass and wastes for energy-efficient building
  • Towards a multi-scale understanding of the nanoporous cellulose nanofibril network for enhanced controlled release packaging


Area(s) of Expertise

Renewable nanotechnology, cellulose nanomaterials (nanocellulose), biopolymers, active and intelligent (food)-packaging, controlled release systems, barrier properties, mass and heat transport, sustainable materials processing


Date: 02/06/19 - 2/05/29
Amount: $15,960.00
Funding Agencies: International Corrugated Packing Foundation (ICPF)

Our proposal will address all three ICPF priority areas. We will ensure that students learn and perform structural design, prototyping, and techno-economic analysis to understand how design, material types/additives, and processes (analog vs. digital) affects product performances, economics, and sustainability aspect. We will also encourage students to take elective courses in sales and marketing.

Date: 08/31/22 - 8/01/25
Amount: $135,000.00
Funding Agencies: Kern Family Foundation

Many colleges of engineering across the country have begun to use the Entrepreneurial Mindset (EM) in their teaching. The vocabulary of EM and entrepreneurially-minded learning (EML) has been developed and promoted by the Keen Foundation. We propose to bring EM and EML to NC State. Many faculty already approve of the concepts but are not yet well-versed in the specific educational methods and language of EM/EML. This project will host the first EM training on NC State's campus. The PI and co-PIs on this project will serve as local experts. An outside consultant with many years experience of teaching EM will come to campus to help us offer this first year of training. Participating faculty will be broken into two cohorts of seven who will meet with coaches over the year to develop new EM content in their own classes. Each participating faculty will publish their work to Engineering Unleashed to conclude their year with the program.

Date: 06/30/20 - 12/31/24
Amount: $27,222.00
Funding Agencies: VentureWell (formerly know as National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance)

Abstract: With the inevitable coming of the Green Economy, biomass valorization, use of renewable and bio-based materials and development of high-performance, recyclable, biodegradable and biocompatible products are nowadays’ challenges and opportunities to welcome a more sustainable society. Yet, to hasten its arrival, we must answer the daunting question of how we transform these challenges to opportunities? By educating new generations of students to the multiplicity of opportunities or “multiverse” of biomass, from a scientific and engineering perspective to an entrepreneurial vision. The Department of Forest Biomaterials has decades of expertise in conversion and valorization of biomass into new fuels/energies and high-performance biomaterials that offer solutions to greenhouse gas emissions, environmental and aquatic pollution and waste accumulation.We propose to leverage our graduate curriculum by adding an entrepreneurial and business competency to its strong scientific and engineering core. Our envisioned integrated program aims at educating Master and PhD students from NC State University, and others (via an online version) by training them in the principles, practices and methodologies of biomass valorization, conversion, and usage.

Date: 06/01/21 - 5/31/24
Amount: $393,959.00
Funding Agencies: Pepsico, Inc.

In year 1 of our project, we will explore the nature of cholesteric phases incellulose crystal tactoids by controlling a series of ambient parameters to allow us to probe how the chiral nematic pitch changes over time, as a function of aspect ratio relative to Debye-Huckel lengths (ionic strength modulation), and DNA templating.

Date: 06/01/21 - 2/29/24
Amount: $264,753.00
Funding Agencies: Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC

The objective of the project is to design a sufficiently stable microcapsule system with encapsulated agrochemical active ingredient, using cellulose-based chemistries as the principal barrier materials, with a biodegradation profile that satisfies the criteria in the ECHA ANNEX XV Proposal for a Restriction on Microplastics.

Date: 04/30/21 - 6/29/23
Amount: $100,000.00
Funding Agencies: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

We propose an innovative bioprocess that will produce high value cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) and butanol fuel from sustainable biomass feedstocks. Specifically, we will assess two biomass feedstocks: 1) poplar-derived market pulp and 2) CRISPR edited whole poplar biomass, as shown in Figure 1. Tailored hemicellulase and cellulase enzymes will be provided by Novozymes to selectively hydrolyze the hemicellulose and amorphous cellulose to generate free sugars and cellulose nanocrystals. The free sugars, both 5- and 6-carbon, will be fermented to butanol fuel via Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum. After fermentation, butanol will serve two beneficial purposes for downstream separation operations: 1) butanol will act as a dispersant inhibiting hydrogen bonding and reducing nanocellulose agglomeration1 and 2) butanol will partially solubilize lignin thereby enhancing liquid/solid separation.2,3

Date: 07/01/21 - 12/31/22
Amount: $28,778.00
Funding Agencies: Pepsico, Inc.

This research collaboration aims to develop a bio-based moisture barrier layer for multilayer packaging. More especially, two bio-sourced components of hydrophobic characteristic and chemical compatibility will be combined as a coating formulation for metal-based and polyester-based substrates. The barrier properties of this layer will be fully characterized. The NCSU team will elaborate the formulation and test it on model substrates; some provided by the sensor Pepsico. Pepsico will test the formulation in their facility and schedule pilot-scale trials to test the lab-made formulation under required conditions.

Date: 10/01/19 - 12/31/22
Amount: $165,000.00
Funding Agencies: Environmental Research & Education Foundation

Abstract: The overall goal of the project is to develop systems to effectively utilize low-grade paper wastes in innovative, recognizable containerboard and pulp molded products in order to increase and stabilize the demand for low-grade paper waste products. This project will also evaluate the marketing potential of these new products. We will first evaluate the product performance of using low-grade paper wastes in containerboard and pulp molded product applications. A series of recycled products with varying concentrations of visible contaminants will be evaluated. We will then perform a sustainability evaluation on the new products. This would include environmental and economic evaluations. This will be followed by the evaluation of the desirability of having such products from the perspective of companies that utilize these containers to ship their products. This will be done through interviews/surveys of retail companies. We then will define the marketing advantages of these container products with respect to the general public, understanding the public’s level of preference for such containers and the ability of the container to develop strong positive brand identity with the public. This will be done through panel evaluations. We will then disseminate the results through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Date: 07/01/20 - 10/31/22
Amount: $59,970.00
Funding Agencies: Ohio State University

Here, we propose a new sustainable packaging solution as a recyclable alternative to plastic substrates that exploits and combines the intrinsic properties of renewable materials for the development of barrier and transparent plastic-like films. We will focus in particular on two types of cheap, abundant, and renewable materials: (i) bacterial cellulose, synthesized by bacteria or algae, which can be easily grown and bioengineered, and (ii) alginate, a polymer extracted from brown algae; both of which are GRAS approved substances. This project will study the effect of weight ratios, salt addition, pH, and possible need of green plasticizers (e.g., glycerol) on the properties of the composite films under varying conditions by mimicking refrigerator, ambient, and microwave conditions, with a direct comparison to commercial plastic food films. The potential release of any of the used polymeric materials and plasticizers to solid and liquid food will be investigated. As a first step towards the design of green aseptic packaging substrates, the film stability against different aseptic technologies (e.g., U.V. radiation, hydrogen peroxide and hot air) will be studied. To this end, a third low-cost, renewable GRAS protein, namely (iii) zein, will also be considered in the last part of this project as a possible way to make up for any lack in the performance of the bacterial cellulose/alginate films with respect to water resistance, thermal stability, and heat-sealing properties

Date: 02/01/21 - 12/31/21
Amount: $5,000.00
Funding Agencies: Tipper Tie, Inc.

A series of meat products and packaging for meat (ground beef, ground sausage, alt-meat (beyond meat), pet food) will be purchased, evaluated, and compared with respect to their environmental impact and sustainability. The number of packaging/products will be 12 and the products agreed to by the sponsor. A very basic Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) to determine sustainability parameters/measures will be performed on these packaging, comparing the same weight of meat. The data will be collected through a literature review and some laboratory-based measurements of the purchased packaging to conduct the analysis. Measured data will include packaging material types and quantities, waste meat amounts, and storage/transportation volumes. These will be used to calculate sustainability indicators such as storage electricity consumption, transportation requirements and emissions, waste meat per unit used meat product, volumes and mass of packaging to be disposed of per volume of meat, qualitative discussions on biodegradability of the packaging.

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