With its more than 100 years of research on record, people often look to the FPL for answers when new questions about wood products arise. So FPL researchers were up to the challenge when Eastman Chemical Company approached them during the development of a new modified wood product.
In 2009, Eastman was developing a decking product by modifying Southern Pine through a chemical process called acetylation. Now marketed as Perennial Wood, the product has all the advantages of wood without its sensitivity to water. Because the product is not traditional treated wood or a wood–plastic composite, however, developers were unsure about what types of adhesive would be most effective when needed.
Researchers at FPL have been studying how to bond wood products for decades. The expertise and equipment at the Lab, in addition to a history of successful public/private partnerships, made collaborating with Eastman a natural fit.
“Eastman was hoping to find an adhesive that was already on the market that would work well with their new product,” explains Chris Hunt, a research chemist at FPL. “So we worked with various adhesive suppliers, tested an array of formulas, and were able to make a recommendation for the most effective adhesive.”
Getting a solid answer to their question helped Eastman move their product into the marketplace.
“Research and testing conducted by FPL helped Eastman meet its goal of launching the complete Perennial Wood decking system at the same time,” said Ellen Turner, technical service and application development engineer for Perennial Wood. “Because modified wood is relatively new, we needed to test how various glues and adhesives would take to the wood. That’s where FPL was instrumental. Its research team identified the best alternative for bonding 1 by 4s together to create strong and crack-resistant railing posts, ensuring our products deliver the quality homeowners expect.”
According to Hunt, this partnership is a great example of government research benefiting the American public. “We were able to use our knowledge and facilities to assist a company that uses domestic materials and labor to create better products for the American public. FPL is here for the public, and partnerships like this showcase how our research works for you.”
Eastman Chemical Company, founded in Tennessee in 1920, is now a global producer of chemicals, fibers, and plastics that employs more than 10,000 people. Perennial Wood decking was officially launched in February 2012.