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Research & Activities

Currently, Forest Service R&D conducts nanotechnology research in three general areas: understanding the nanoscale properties of wood, renewable nanoscale materials from woody plants and application of nanotechnology in traditional forest products. Presently, the majority of our nanotechnology research is conducted at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) with some research conducted in collaboration with other public and private sector partners.

  • FPL-Purdue collaboration in Nanotechnology: The FS FPL and Purdue University entered into an MOU in 2007 to collaborate in nanotechnology research. In 2007, the FPL relocated Dr. Robert Moon to Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center to initiate nanotechnology research in topic areas relevant to forest products. In 2011, the FPL-Purdue nanotechnology research collaboration consists of nanocelluose characterization, structure property relationship modeling, nanocellulose surface modification and nanocellulose polymeric composites.
  • Wood Preservation and Nanotechnology: Forest Service researchers have investigated the wood protection properties of nano-scale chemicals and their use in wood preservation. FIFRA and TSCA are active areas of nano-scale substance activities in the EPA, which will potentially impact the U.S. wood preservation industry.
  • Scale up of nanocellulose production: One of the bottlenecks of nanocellulose research is the lack of sufficient quantities of material available. The FPL has acquired equipments to produce cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrillar cellulose in significant quantities. The FPL equipment will produce highly uniform crystalline and fibrillar nanocellulose for FS and external collaborators in the U.S. and internationally.

Nanocellulose International Standards Development

By most accounts, nanocellulose-based products will be produced in commercial quantities in the near future. In order to remove trade barriers, inform multinational regulatory development and harmonize knowledge base in nanocellulose, the Forest Service is leading an international effort, consisting of the United States, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, France and Japan, to develop international standards for nanocellulose. This effort include developing a proposal to establish a nanocellulose task group in International Standards Organization Technical Committee 229 Nanotechnologies (ISO TC229); the FS is the USDA representative to ISO TC229. The current focus of nanocellulose international standards development are in the areas of nomenclature and terminology, metrology and characterization, EHS (environment, health and safety) and material specifications. The Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), an ANSI certified American National Standards developing organization, has initiated nanocellulose American National Standards developing process in nanocellulose with FS in couple of leadership positions.

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