Nanocellulose represents a new type of forest product that could offer a potential high-value outlet for a variety of underutilized wood-based resources and allow wood to enter entirely new applications and markets because of its unique characteristics. For example, nanocellulose can be used to reinforce plastics, enhancing their performance and providing a favorable balance of properties for a wide variety of applications. Forest Products Laboratory scientists are collaborating with University of Wisconsin researchers to combine nanocellulose with high-performance engineering plastics, which usually have too high of a melting temperature to be used with nanocellulose (i.e. the heat causes the nanocellulose to degrade before the plastics melts). The researchers are investigating new, advanced processing methods using benign materials such as water and nitrogen at high temperatures to temporarily reduce the melting point of the engineering plastic so that nanocellulose can be blended with it without degrading the nanocellulose. The researchers are targeting composites with a fine foam structure for lightweight automotive applications, for example.