Area(s) of Expertise
Wood physics and durability, mass timber products and wood recycling
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that over 130 million acres of forests are located in U.S cities and towns. From a wood products industry perspective, urban woods only play a minor role and the available resource is not recognized by its optimal ecologic and economic value. The most common end-of-life solutions for urban trees are mulching and in many cases landfilling. However, in recent years, the use of urban wood for furniture and interior design have increased, mostly by efforts of local companies. The popularity of urban wood products is a result of highly variable wood characteristics and a high degree in custom fabrication. However, both aspects create challenges along the chains of processing and production. The goal of this project is to create more capability and confidence in urban wood utilization among companies and consumers. The project aims at achieving the highest and best use for each tree with benefits to local communities. NC Wood Products Extension, with a long history of industry education and support, proposes the development of educational modules as part of an outreach initiative with a special focus on drying. Outreach includes on-site workshops, online videos, and experimental kits to educate about moisture-related properties of urban woods.
The North Carolina Statewide Forest Products Marketing Team (SFPMT) is a team of industry professionals working together to assess and review the current state of the North Carolina forest and wood products industry to identify marketing issues and needs, develop solutions and assist the industry to exploit opportunities. Covering all one hundred counties of North Carolina plus the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, economic opportunities identified by the project will benefit local communities for employment and economic activity. Improved forest management and marketing will lower the cost of good forest management for landowners resulting in more acres of forest improvements to be undertaken. This project will support efforts to maintain current forest land use as working forest land, thus supporting environmental maintenance of wildlife and water resources. This project will offer a platform for cooperative education and networking to improve communication among industry participants and to promote better utilization of North CarolinaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s forest resources in the US National Forests as well as on private forest lands. North Carolina State University is the organizer of this effort, with a project staff of five industry professionals to oversee the proposed efforts for organization and outreach. The project will update both USFS Product Locators for North Carolina for primary and secondary industry segments. The team will host approximately thirty regional meetings across the state, reaching out to all industry segments, including landowners, loggers, log yards, sawmills and lumber drying operations, firewood, cabinet, furniture, millwork, flooring and composite manufacturers. The use of electronic media tools will optimize outreach efforts and create a vivid, interactive, and resourceful connection to, and within the industry. Our expectation is that our efforts will grow sales, profitability and employment for the forest and wood products industry in North Carolina. This project will raise the importance of networking to a new level as we reach out and include a large number of industry participants that are not connected today and will open new channels for better utilization of forest materials into value-added products.
Proposed development of CLT panel systems in the US has focused on large lumber gluing and layup systems, presses and CNC machining centers that require high equipment and facility costs approaching $30 million. The result of such high investment requirements is that few US CLT operations exist and none are currently in operation in the US South. This project will develop an alternative strategy able to produce 80% of the output of a large size CLT panel plant at 2% of the investment cost. It is possible to quickly develop a forest products industry niche for CLT panels using existing equipment resources once used by the casegoods furniture industry by using a small size batch process format. These presses are capable of manufacturing 4ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢x8ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ panels for residental homes, pressing multiple CLT panels per batch press cycle. These Residential CLT panels (RCLT) can be used for walls, floors, and roof decking for use by general contractors with the support of knowledgeable architects and organizations like the APA. The National Forest System has excess low quality materials that need to be removed to improve forest health, reduce fire danger and assist the local economy. These lower grade materials are plentiful and are suitable for residential CLTs. Material for RCLTs could include Southern yellow pine and the mixed hardwood species that can also be processed into veneers for hardwood plywood. An objective of this project is to evaluate suitable species for lumber and plywood RCLT for use in building residential homes. This project will demonstrate a manufacturing system by making samples of RCLTs in several existing furniture cold presses, pressing a stack of several RCLTs in batches. The project includes the development of joinery types to connect the panels for assembly. The goal is to successfully manufacture RCLT panels that pass the APA PRG 320 Standard using the two lumber grades approved by the APA (#2 yellow pine for faces and #3 for the core and cross bands) and hardwood veneers using this low capital approach.
Wood Products Extension at NC State University is assisting the NC Forest Service to prepare and conduct two firewood workshops in North Carolina and Virginia between July 2021 and June 2022. The project includes the development of a business guide to aid new and existing firewood businesses. Workshops will include presentations by industry professionals, foresters, equipment vendors, and firewood business owners and managers, as well as outdoor demonstrations. At the end of the project, a summary will be developed to capture the impact of this outreach activity.