Product spotlight

  • Norwegian sustainable marine polysaccharide
  • Ultra pure nanocellulose produced in a state-of-the-art cleanroom facility according to cGMP
  • Excellent structural properties as a scaffold material
  • Wide range of applications in biomedical research

Where is the material used?

Applications of TUNICELL

TUNICELL, tunicate nanocellulose, is a marine polysaccharide that has structural similarities with the body’s own scaffold material, collagen, such as similar fibril dimensions and length.

However, TUNICELL hydrogels have stronger mechanical properties for 3D shaping, it is a neutral biopolymer, it is ultrapure, and produced under cGMP. The strength and stability of TUNICELL provide the structural integrity needed to create advanced 3D shapes, as well as thin films or membranes for a variety of applications. Nanocellulose can be mixed with other biomaterials, conductive particles or active ingredients to tailor-make hydrogels to suit your applications.


Tunicell Performance

Our tunicate nanocellulose, TUNICELL, is produced from a sustainable, low-trophic marine resource, the tunicate Ciona intestinalis. Tunicates are the only animals that can synthesize cellulose, likely arising from the horizontal transfer of a prokaryotic cellulose synthase gene at the origin of the tunicate lineage.


Based on over 20 years of research, our team has developed the complete value chain from farming tunicates, to harvesting, processing, cellulose extraction and further refining of the tunicate cellulose to cellulose nanofibrils with tuneable properties.

The tunicates are harvested annually on the west coast of Norway, and during processing, different compartments are separated into components with individual commercial trajectories. Using our unique and specialized extraction protocol, one of these compartments, the animal “tunic”, yields tunicate cellulose that is of superior quality and purity, compared to cellulose isolated from plant-based sources. We further process this tunicate cellulose in our state-of-the-art cleanroom facilities to produce ultrapure medical grade cellulose nanofibrils, TUNICELL, according to ISO standards towards cGMP accreditation.

The physical characteristics and purity of TUNICELL make it an excellent scaffolding material in the emergent field of tissue and organ regeneration. Ocean TuniCell is currently supplying the market with an enzymatically pretreated medical grade TUNICELL product (TUNICELL ETC), TEMPO-mediated oxidized medical grade TUNICELL product (TUNICELL TTC), and carboxymethylated medical grade TUNICELL product (TUNICELL CTC). All products can be supplied with or without an osmolyte (4.6% D-Mannitol).


99 %


89 %

Degree of
Polymerization (DPw)


Aspect ratio


Medical grade

≤ 0.5 EU/ml

Ultrapure cellulose

Tunicate cellulose has a purity of 99.2 ± 0.3 %, free of hemicellulose and lignin. The absence of heteropolymeric hemicellulose and lignin provides a highly controlled and reproducible scaffold material.

Carbohydrate composition of TUNICELL: Released carbohydrates after complete acid hydrolysis of TUNICELL were examined by high performance anion exchange chromatography with a pulsed amperometric detection (HPAEC-PAD) on a ICS3000 system (Dionex, Sunnyvale, CA, United States) using a Carbopac PA1 column (Dionex, Sunnyvale, CA, United States).


Tunicate cellulose is highly organized and our TUNICELL ETC has a crystallinity of 89.07 + 1.60 %, the highest found in nature. These physical characters yield a scaffold material with robust mechanical strength.

XRD: A PANalytical X’Pert PRO Materials research diffractometer equipped with an X’Celerator detector was used to determine the diffraction patterns and crystallinity index (CI) of TUNICELL. (Malvern Panalytical Ltd, UK).

Degree of Polymerization (DPw)

Tunicate cellulose fibers are much larger than traditional plant-derived cellulose fibers. This will contribute to greater stability of the scaffold. The data in Table 2 is based on analysis of TUNICELL ETC.

SEC: After complete dissolution of TUNICELL in LiCl/DMAc the molecular weight (or DPw) of TUNICELL was analyzed by a size exclusion chromatography (SEC) system equipped with a Rheodyne injector, a DGU-20A3 degasser, a LC-20AD liquid chromatography system, and a RID-10A refractive index detector (Shimadzu, Kyoto, Japan).

Aspect Ratio

Tunicate cellulose (TUNICELL ETC) has long (2519 ± 827 nm) and thick (8.5 ± 3.37 nm) fibers with a high aspect ratio (296 ± 97) yielding a large reactive surface. This will favor modifications and cross linking with other materials in devices and other applications.

AFM: A tapping-mode atomic force microscope (AFM, Multimode IIIa, Veeco, Santa Barbara, CA, United States) was used to determine the morphology of TUNICELL.

Medical grade

Our medical grade ultrapure nanocellulose is produced under clean room standards, is sterilized and has bioburden levels of < 10 CFU/ml and endotoxin levels ≤ 0.5 EU/ml, adhering to FDA regulations for medical devices.

Endotoxin: Levels are tested by Lonza’s PyroGene™ Recombinant Factor C Assay. Bioburden: The bioburden test is conducted according to European Pharmacopoeia, Chapter 2.6.12.

A Sustainable
Marine Resource


Tunicates are low trophic, filter-feeding animals at the base of marine food webs.

Tunicates are a diverse group of animals that have both benthic (living on attached substrates) and pelagic (living in the water column) groups. They are the only animals that can synthesize cellulose, likely arising from the horizontal transfer of a prokaryotic cellulose synthase gene at the origin of the tunicate lineage. This means that all tunicates can produce a cellulose biopolymer similar to the one from bacteria. Tunicate cellulose fibrils are advantageous in that they are longer, thicker and have a larger reactive surface area than cellulose fibrils obtained from plant material. These are important structural traits that make composites of tunicate cellulose substantially stronger and will enable a very robust binding with other materials to its surface.

Another important advantage is that since tunicates are supported by surrounding seawater, they do not need the same structural support as plants that remain upright on land. The structural matrix is therefore absent of cross-linking lignin and hemicellulose. This means that tunicate cellulose can easily be extracted at very high and reproducible purity.

The strength of the cellulose fibres coupled to the purity of the fibres makes it particularly interesting for a large range of products, particularly within the field of biomedicine as a scaffold material in organ and tissue reconstruction.

The Product

20 years of research expertise

Ocean TuniCell AS has developed a tunicate nanocellulose product, TUNICELL. The product is produced from a sustainable marine resource that we harvest on the west coast of Norway and processed into > 99 % pure cellulose, free of contaminating hemicellulose and lignin. This is then used to produce our ultrapure TUNICELL, tunicate nanocellulose, with endotoxin values ≤ 0.5 EU/ml and bioburden < 10 CFU/ml.

TUNICELL can be produced according to customer specifications at a range of concentrations up to 2.5 % nanocellulose in a dispersion.

TUNICELL is produced according to ISO standards towards cGMP accreditation.