Video: FPL Brings Innovation to the Forest Products Industry with Nanocellulose

Happy National Forest Products Week!

One of the most exciting and innovative forest products today is nanocellulose, a product that is as strong as steel but five times lighter. Here at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we produce nanocellulose and work with many partners to study potential commercial applications for this wonder material that brings wood to industries that perhaps have not incorporated it before.

The Forest Service recently produced a video that explains what nanocellulose is, how it’s produced, and what it can be made into. It might seem hard to believe that wood can be used to make ballistic glass, synthetic armor, replacement tendons (yes, in people!), or coatings that keep food fresh longer. But it’s all within reach, thanks to nanocellulose research…just watch and learn!

FPL to Host National Forest Products Week Event

In recognition of National Forest Products Week, the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) invites the public to attend a free showing of “Felled,” a documentary film about giving new life to fallen urban trees, followed by a discussion with local experts on urban trees and wood use.

Felled is a story about finding worth and beauty in something most consider to be trash. The film chronicles the journey of an urban pine tree downed by a summer storm and saved from the landfill by two woodworkers who give the tree new meaning as a family dinner table. Through interviews with industry experts, sawyers, arborists, artists, and woodworkers, including both Norm Abram and Nick Offerman, the film highlights the growing urban lumber movement and explores themes of waste, craftsmanship, and redemption.

The panel of local experts include Brian Brashaw (FPL), Dwayne Sperber (Wudeward and Wisconsin Urban Wood), Fred Clark (Baraboo Woodworks), and John Stephenson (Stephenson Tree care).

Tours of the Forest Products Laboratory will be available after the film and discussion.

Event Summary:

What: Free public showing of “Felled” documentary followed by a discussion with local experts on urban trees and wood use.
When: Tuesday, October 17th, 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Where: USDA Forest Products Laboratory, 1 Gifford Pinchot Dr. Madison, WI 53726

National Forest Products Week is celebrated the third week in October every year to recognize the significance of the valuable products that come from our Nation’s forests, the people who manage our forests in a sustainable way, and the business who make quality forest products available to us all.

Renewable Energy Flooring Takes a Step Forward at Union South

The University of Wisconsin released the following article by Will Cushman about the advancement of a project the Forest Products Laboratory has been a collaborator on. Read on to see how simply walking on a wood floor can generate electricity!

Visitors to UW–Madison’s Union South walk across a section of floor designed and installed by College of Engineering researchers to capture the energy of footsteps and turn it into usable electricity. Photo: Adrienne Nienow

As thousands of visitors each day walk across a new flooring installation in UW–Madison’s Union South this fall, they might not realize they’re participating in what could very well represent a leap into the future of renewable energy production.

A research team led by Xudong Wang, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of materials science and engineering, in collaboration with the UW–Madison Grainger Institute for Engineering, has installed a high-tech flooring prototype that harvests the energy of footsteps and converts it into electricity. Continue reading

Plywood from Past to Present: UK Museum Exhibits ‘Material of the Modern World’

Plywood is one of the most common, yet overlooked materials used throughout the world today. But how has this revolutionary wood composite, dating back to 2600 BC Egypt, influenced the changing times?

A new exhibit at the United Kingdom’s Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), the world’s leading museum of art and design, delves into the history and versatility of plywood, exploring the handy material and how it helped move our world from the past to the present.

 “Plywood: Material of the Modern World” showcases the story of plywood and its resourceful nature, featuring everything from furniture to houses and airplanes.

Despite its first emergence in 1880, the use of plywood increased in the 1920’s, when it signified the beginning of the industrial age. Architects praised the material’s flexibility and began building simple furniture, such as armchairs and stools. An armchair by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto is just one of the pieces shown at the exhibit.

Full-scale house, built at the 1937 Madison Home Show to demonstrate the Forest Product Laboratory’s plywood prefabrication system.

In addition to early 20th century furniture, the showcase features a full-scale prefabricated plywood home, similar to the first all-wood one built here at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in 1937.  “Prefab” houses gained popularity after scientists at the Lab developed a waterproof adhesive that allowed for easier construction and mass-production of the product. Many people sought and bought these humble abodes in response to the Great Depression, seeing them as a means to quick, affordable housing.

Beginning in the 1940’s at the dawn of World War II, plywood played a role once again, and FPL was at the forefront of wartime innovation. Researchers designed and created a number of military applications, including adhesives and papreg, a strong paper-plastic that was used in the floors of gliders. The 1941 DeHavilland Mosquito aircraft, on display at the V&A, was renowned for its strength and lightness. Thanks to the planes plywood fuselages, built at FPL, the Mosquito was the fastest aircraft manufactured for the war.

Other exhibition highlights include an 1800’s elevated plywood railway, an automobile, and displays showcasing how the material influenced DIY efforts of the 1950’s. Various tours and lectures on the groundbreaking influence of plywood are also offered.

“Plywood: Material of the Modern World” will run at the V&A until November 12, 2017.

Blog post by Francesca Yracheta

Turning Up the Heat: Fires Test Performance of Tall Wood Buildings

Wood buildings provide an array of economic and environmental benefits. Interest in capitalizing on those benefits by constructing mid- to high-rise buildings using cross-laminated timber (CLT) is growing. CLT is made from layers of dried lumber boards stacked in alternating direction at 90-degree angles, glued and pressed to form solid panels. These panels have exceptional strength and stability and can be used as walls, roofs, and floors. Additionally, calculations have shown that a seven-inch floor made of CLT has a fire resistance of two hours.

In order for wood structures to rise above six stories without special building official permission, changes to the International Building Code are needed. It’s a tall order, but researchers from the Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) recently completed a series of fire tests that will address concerns about fire performance of wood buildings and help take them to new heights. Continue reading