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US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Technology Transfer in Action

Panels made of recycled fiber and based on FPL research are being commercialized. Steve Schmieding, Forest ServiceSnapshot : FPL-developed panels made from forest residuals, recycled fiber, and agricultural by-products are being commercialized by two start-up companies.

Principal Investigators(s) :
John Hunt 
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 322

Summary

Fundamental and applied research is being been successfully transferred to two industrial partners. The two start-up companies are developing panel products that use technology developed at FPL. This year there have been significant consultations to help move these two companies closer to commercial reality. One company, BioSIPs Inc., is developing a line of furniture and structurally insulated panels. The other company, ECOR Global is focusing on furniture, office partitions, and architectural materials panels. The panels can be made from forest residuals, recycled fiber, and agricultural fibrous by-products. All raw panels made at the FPL and were naturally bonded and formaldehyde free. FPL is continuing to help these companies with technology transfer issues so that they can be in production in the near future.

The disposal of forest thinning residue is a concern when looking at sustainable forest management. FPL researchers investigated the technical possibility of utilizing aspen logging slash wood with diameters ranging from 50-76 mm for flakeboard production. Influences of weight ratio between slash wood and commercial flakes on the selected mechanical and physical properties of panels were examined, as was the need for extra debarking process for panel fabrication. The results indicated the modulus of elasticity, modulus of rupture, internal bonding, linear expansion, thickness swelling and water adsorption of flakeboard made from aspen slash wood flakes were all comparable to those properties of panels made from aspen commercial flakes. The results indicated abundant slash wood, which was normally characterized by inferior mechanical and physical properties, could be a valuable resource for commercially available structural panel products.

Particleboards are widely used for construction, furniture, and interior decoration. The primary material used in the particleboard panel industry is wood, but there has recently been a revival of interest in using agriculture residues to produce particleboards and other composite panels due to competition for wood raw materials and for economical and environmental considerations. Globally, wheat and rice are the most important food grains ranking second and third in terms of the total cereal production, and appear to be the most promising agriculture residues for manufacturing composite panels. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of oxalic acid (OA) - and steam-pretreatment on the primary performance of rice straw particleboards. In addition, the effect of various treatment conditions on carbohydrates released from rice straw particles was investigated. The results show that steam- and short durations of OA-treatment significantly improved the mechanical properties and dimensional stability of rice straw particleboards. However, steam-treated rice straw (without OA-treatment) panels exhibited even better performance when compared with OA-treated panels. OA-pretreatment time has a negative effect on performance of panels, whereas the effect of temperature on the performance of OA-treated panels was not significant, except for the linear expansion. OA-treatment accelerated carbohydrates extraction. The sugars released from the OA-treated rice straw particles increase with increasing treatment temperature and time. Carbohydrates extracted from rice straw particles could be a potential sustainable resource for biofuel or bio-based chemicals.

California Air Resources has implemented new standards that set lower acceptable formaldehyde emission levels for products sold in California than those established by the current voluntary standards in the United States. Soy adhesives are used to make interior (decorative) plywood, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard that meet all the current and future established standards for formaldehyde emissions. Ashland-Hercules working cooperatively with the Forest Products Laboratory has developed these soy adhesives and has commercialized them for interior plywood, engineered wood flooring and particleboard. This technology also allows wood manufacturers to replace adhesives based on fossil fuel by biomass-based adhesives. Over half of the interior plywood market is currently using soy-based adhesives.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • ECOR Global International, CaliforniaBioSIPs Inc., Colorado

Research Topics

Priority Areas

  • Resource Management and Use
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