Trees Are Climate Change, Carbon Storage Heroes

Mature trees like this Elm can sequester more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a single year. Photo by USDA Forest Service

J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, once wrote, “I longed to devise a setting in which the trees might really march to war.”

If climate change is a battle for Earth’s survival, then trees will be a vital army holding the line. When Tolkien imagined trees marching to war, he couldn’t have foreseen how relevant those words would one day be.

Trees are a bastion against climate change.

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Big Grant Funding Awarded to Tiniest, Mightiest Building Material of the Future

The Forest Products Laboratory is pleased to announce the littlest big news that could help change how we fabricate the world around us.

CN-enhanced concrete looks and acts like traditional concrete but is much stronger. Photo by Michael Goergen, U.S. Endowment.

USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in collaboration with P3Nano from the US Endowment for Forests and Communities(U.S. Endowment) announced ten awards this month for projects ranging from one to five years, totaling $2.4 million in grants to further nanocellulose research.

The partnership funds research to evaluate the safety of cellulosic nanomaterials (CNs), develop process improvements to reduce production cost, and provide new market opportunities for advanced applications. Everything from biodegradable snack packaging to concrete additives that significantly reduce CO2 emissions are possible with CN innovation.

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FPL Researchers Pioneering Steps into a Sustainable Plastics Future

As the public focuses more on climate change and sustainability solutions, the numbers and facts can be staggering, nearly crippling to think about. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, and our fish seem to be drowning in plastic instead of thriving under the sea. A June 2020, National Geographic article that projected 600 million metric tons of plastic waste in the ocean by 2040 if global plastic habits don’t change.

Hearing these projections and statistics can be discouraging and scary.

Ronald Sabo
Engineered Composites Science
Research Materials Engineer

But fear not, people like Forest Products Laboratory’s (FPL) Ron Sabo and his team of researchers are looking up the mountain, seeing the goal of a sustainable-eco-plastic future at the top and taking on the challenge with the diligent steps needed to make that future a reality.

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Research on Electronic Components Made from Wood Continues to Advance

The Forest Products Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) have a history of collaboration aimed at making electronic components from wood. From flexible electronic screens to computer chips, this partnership has produced fascinating results. Learn more about the latest development in the following article from the UW.

Critical communications component made on a flexible wooden film

By Jason Daley

In the not-too-distant future, flexible electronics will open the door to new products like foldable phones, tablets that can be rolled, paper-thin displays and wearable sensors that monitor health data. Developing these new bendy products, however, means using materials like new plastics and thin films to replace the rigid circuit boards and bulky electronic components that currently occupy the interiors of cell phones and other gadgets.

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Wood-Infused Concrete Put to the Test

Repaving a parking lot isn’t generally something we’d get too excited about here at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL). That is, unless the project incorporates wood, in which case, we’re totally stoked.

Test site for cellulose nanomaterial-enhanced concrete in Greenville, S.C. Photo credit: Michael Goergen

And that’s exactly what happened in Greenville, South Carolina, at the headquarters for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment). A parking lot there has become the largest test site in the world for cellulose nanomaterial (CN)-enhanced concrete, which FPL researchers and partners at the Endowment, Oregon State University, and Purdue University have found to have improved properties over traditional concrete.

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