New Acoustic Technology Evaluates Wood Quality of Standing Trees
The Forest Products Laboratory, University of Minnesota Duluth, and Fiber-gen Inc. cooperated on the development of an acoustic technology that evaluates the wood quality of standing trees. The research team developed a novel acoustic measurement system that employs a time-of-flight method (measuring the speed of sound waves) with two specially designed sensor probes to improve acoustic velocity measurements applied to standing trees. Through field studies, the scientists proved the concept of acoustic velocity obtained in trees as an effective measure of the stiffness and strength of wood. While designed toward understanding the structural performance of the lumber obtained from the trees, the technology has is useful in predicting intrinsic fiber properties of the trees, a huge benefit to pulp and paper making industry. This breakthrough resulted in one domestic patent and three foreign patents (New Zealand, Australia, and Canada). The technology is exclusively licensed to Fiber-gen, Inc., a forest equipment development company in New Zealand. Fifty units of the hand-held standing tree tool (Hitman ST300) based on this intellectual property have been sold to land owners, forest companies, and research institutions. More recently, Fiber-gen integrated the acoustic measurement system into harvest head machines, enabling tree quality evaluation during harvesting operations. The new acoustic technology delivers the following benefits to forest and wood products industry: (1) Enables objective evaluation of stiffness and other wood properties in standing trees; (2) Assists in optimization of value capture in harvesting and log making; (3) Provides means for allocating timber based on quality and suitability for different customers or processing options; (4) Provides decision support in forest management to improve the quality of trees.
Forest Service Partners