Research Centers and Initiatives
The Department of Forest Biomaterials at NC State (FB) participates in a number of on-going interdisciplinary research initiatives that examine various aspects of wood, paper science and forest biomaterials. These efforts can involve the collaborative efforts of faculty and researchers from many different colleges and departments at NC State as well as researchers from other organizations, universities and government agencies.
In addition to conducting extensive and often groundbreaking research into all aspects of wood products and paper science and engineering, FB sponsors the following formal initiatives devoted to subsets of these research areas:
- Forest Biomaterials research covering the technical and economic evaluation of pretreatment technologies, process modeling and alternative processing strategies plus projects that investigate the fundamental and applied aspects of new cellulose and lignin based biomaterials.
- Wood Chemistry, Pulp & Bleaching research into pulping and bleaching process modifycations that increase the cost-competitiveness of these techniques, the integration of black liquor gasification into kraft mills and new pulping methods such as the recycling of green liquor. Wood chemistry research includes lignin chemical characterization, novel analytical methods, solvent systems for cellulosic materials and biomass conversion to chemical intermediates.
- Biotechnology & Enzymes research into creating new genetic strains of trees that retain their strength but have less lignin and more cellulose — leading to improved wood properties, easier pulping processes and more efficiently produced bioenergy and biofuel alternatives.
- Papermaking/Wet-End Chemistry research into surface charge phenomena, effects of enzymes, the role of polymeric additives to the process and colloid chemical aspects of the paper manufacturing process.
- Physics & Materials Science research into multiphase materials, including porous fibrous web structures, foams made from natural materials, natural super-absorbents, enzymatic manipulation of material structure, natural nano-scale fiber composites and novel applications of rheological phenomenon.
- Paper Recycling research related to de-inking, the removal and effects of stickies, repulping of wax-containing paper and automated, high-speed sorting of waste-paper fragments.
- Southeastern Partnership for Integrated Biomass Supply Systems (IBSS) is a collaboration of several universities and industry partners who will work on all aspects of the �biofuels pipeline� between the forests where the trees � the biomass feedstock � are grown and the �biorefineries� where the biofuels are produced. The partnership is funded for five years with a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture�s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- Nonwood Fiber Processing
- Sustainable Wood Materials research into the use of more environmentally friendly, non-woven materials (such as forest biomaterials and other bio-component fibers) as a component of construction fiberboard that is as strong as traditional fiberboard — but produced without the use of petroleum-based adhesives.
- Wood Machining & Tooling efforts geared toward evaluating and improving wood machining methods and processes, including cause-and-effect relationships in router spindle vibration problems; the effect of carbide tool composition and edge quality on tool performance; systems for evaluating and quantifying machined surface quality; and on-line process monitoring in machining operations.
- Value Added Wood Products efforts that focus on developing new materials and new production techniques to create customer value, help differentiate products, enhance competitive positioning and improve distribution strategies in the forest products industry.