Newest Forest Products Journal Features Adhesives: Many FPL Researchers Present

Adhesive-bond

Photomicrograph of an adhesive bond of two pieces of wood. The blue areas show the adhesive penetration into the wood structure.

The latest issue (Volume 54, No. 1/2, 2015) of The Forest Products Journal is all about adhesives. Featuring 10 selected articles addressing a theme of efficient use of wood resources in wood adhesive bonding research presented at the 2013 International Conference on Wood Adhesives in Toronto, Canada, we hear from several FPL scientists.

FPL has played an integral role in developing technical understanding of adhesives and setting product and performance standards by organizations such as the ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials), American Institute of Timber Construction (AITC), APA–The Engineered Wood Association (APA), and the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA).

The first glue development research at the FPL in 1917 was to improve water resistance of the best glues available for manufacture of WWI aircraft components. At that time, FPL began to develop composites in an attempt to conserve our forests and make use of waste wood. Adhesives for housing, other buildings, timber bridges, and other structures has always been important.

In the Introduction to Special Issue: Wood Adhesives: Past, Present, and Future, Team Leader, Wood Adhesives, Forest Biopolymer Science and Engineering, Charles Frihart provides a comprehensive history and explanation of the important role that adhesives have played in the efficient utilization of wood resources.

Speaking about wood products, Frihart says: “Adhesives will continue to be a growing part of efficient utilization of forest resources. However, acquiring suitable wood resources will continue to be a challenge because of a diminished supply of high-quality wood and competition for wood from wood pellet and biorefinery industries. The challenges involve dealing with species that are not currently being used and with a greater mixture of species. More plantation wood could involve increased porosity and lower strength because of increased proportion of earlywood. The wood may also have increased or more variable moisture content as a result of efforts to reduce drying costs.

Wood products volume should continue to increase especially if engineered wood products replace other building materials for multi-story buildings and if there are sufficient housing starts. One challenge could be in bonding wood to other materials if glulam or laminated veneer lumber start using layers of stronger polymers or composites for greater strength. There also might be markets for bonding to modified wood, such as acetylated wood or heat-treated wood.”

Challenges in our changing forests and in changing construction practices will keep Frihart and his team busy for years to come as they find ways to use their adhesive research to adjust to change and best utilize our natural resources.

 

 

Patents? From Dead Trees?

You may be surprised at how many technologies from FPL research get patented. What is the value of that? Patents are an effective mode of technology transfer, as they make technologies more appealing to the marketplace due to the exclusivity they offer. Technology transfer leads to increased productivity, increased industrial innovation, enhanced U.S. industrial competitiveness, job creation, and improved and lower cost public services.

Patents

Patent Advisor Janet Stockhausen and her team ensure that this technology transfer happens each year. In addition to the work of JY Zhu listed in a previous post, below are the patents that came from FPL this year.

Patents and Licenses

Maria G. Rojas, Joan A. Morales-Ramos, Frederick Green, and Thomas A. Kuster  – Naphthalenic Compounds as Termite Bait Toxicants (Patent No. RE44,543, Issued 10/22/13)

termiteattack

Wood attacked by termites.

Jeffrey P. Youngblood, Yizheng Cao, Robert J. Moon, William J. Weiss, and Pablo D. Zavattieri – Cellulose Nanocrystal Additives and Improved Cementious Systems, licensed by Purdue Research Foundation

Jilei Zhang, Zhiyong Cai, and Sung Phil Mun – Methods of Synthesizing Graphene from a Lignin Source, licensed by Mississippi State University

JY Zhu Recognized: Multiple Awards for this Productive Researcher

Director Michael T. Rains visited FPL yesterday to present length of service awards to employees, which recognize workers for each 5 years of their service. Mr. Rains also made a special point of remembering awards granted throughout the year, and researcher JunYong (JY) Zhu deserves a shout out for his many accomplishments. Possibly the most prestigious of this year’s many awards for Dr. Zhu was the 2014 R&D Deputy Chief’s Distinguished Science Award.

Deputy-Chiefs-Award-2013_Zhu-300x257

Dr. Zhu was recently honored with the 2014 U.S. Forest Service R&D Deputy Chief’s Distinguished Science Award.

But that’s just one of Dr. Zhu’s 2014 accomplishments. Did you know that FPL research results in many patents? Indeed, the Patent Program helps convert Forest Service research into usable information and technologies that benefit both the American public and industry. Dr. Zhu is an inventor on 7 issued patents and 5 pending patent applications. Following are Dr. Zhu’s most recent patents:

JY Zhu and Hao Liu – Metal Compounds to Eliminate Nonproductive Enzyme Adsorption and Enhance Enzymatic Saccharification of Lignocellulose.

JY Zhu and Richard S. Reiner (FPL) – Methods for Integrating the Production of Cellulose Nanofibrils with the Production of Cellulose Nanocrystals (Patent No. 8,710,213, Issued 4/29/14).

One of FPL’s most prolific researchers, Dr. Zhu received the GMFAA Employee of the Year Award, Technical Category, for his sustained research excellence and productivity. He has published more than 90 refereed research papers and has delivered over 75 presentations. His contributions have been directed to utilization of small-diameter wood for fiber products and developing forest biorefinery technologies and nanocellulose production strategies.

JY Zhu received the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) 2014 Research and Development Award.

FPL and the American public are fortunate to have such a devoted and hard-working researcher working for us.

Spectroscopy Research Challenges a Deadly Tree Fungus

Loblolly pine ranges from Georgia and the Carolinas to Texas but a destructive fungus is threatening this common southern softwood. Fusiform rust, Cronartium quercuum f.sp. fusiforme, is one the most destructive forest diseases in the South. With its complex life cycle, this fungus infects both loblolly and slash pine causing canker formation that frequently kills the infected branch.

The pine infection cycle occurs in Georgia in April and early May. Elongated swelling of the branches is the result of individual attacks on different parts of a tree. Many of the infected trees are unsuitable for later use as forest products, causing millions of dollars to be lost annually. Trees with large galls on the main stem are also unsuitable for many products.

Most of the photos in the above slideshow are by Robert L. Anderson, US Forest Service.

Changes in wood chemistry resulting from fungal decay of Scots pine have been studied directly using spectroscopy, the study of interactions between matter and radiated energy. A 2003 study by Pandey and Pitman exposed Scots pine sapwood to brown rot, selective white rot, and nonselective white rot fungi. In this study, the decay process was followed using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). After 12 weeks, the wood exposed to the brown rot fungus resulted in progressive increase in lignin content relative to cellulose and hemicellulose, whereas the lignin content of the wood exposed to the selective white rot decreased as decay proceeded. For the wood exposed to the nonselective white rot wood, both occurred.

A recently published FPL study applied both FTIR spectroscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) to determine whether the pathogen caused any structural modifications to the chemical composition of lignin. A new FPL paper, Effect of Fusiform Rust (Cronartium quurcum f.sp. fusiforme) on the Composition of Loblolly Pine Lignin by Roderquita K. Moore, Allisha N. Blood, and Cherrelle I. Esekie discusses the results.