$10 Million Grant Awarded for Biomass Consortium

The National Institute for Food and Agriculture recently announced the recipients of $90 million in funding through the agency’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Sustainable Agriculture Systems program.

The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) is a main collaborator in a project lead by West Virginia University’s Jingxin Wang. The project, “Mid-Atlantic Sustainable Biomass for Value-added Products Consortium (MASBio)” was awarded $10 million over five years to deliver a sustainable and economically feasible biomass for value-added products system in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

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Technology Helps Turn Salvaged Trees into Moneymakers

When insect scourges run rampant through forested ecosystems they can leave behind entire stands of dead and dying trees – especially if that scourge is the spruce budworm. In the Upper Midwest, where the spruce budworm infests forests on a cyclic 30-50 year pattern, forest managers oftentimes use salvaged logs from the dead and dying trees to produce low-value wood products, such as wood pulp, or merely count the dead trees as a loss and leave them standing.

Spruce budworm mortality,
Chequamegon–Nicolet
National Forest, Summer
2014 (Steven Katovich, USDA
Forest Service, Bugwood.org).

But Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) researchers developed ways to evaluate the quality of salvaged wood and sort out the higher-quality wood for production of cross-laminated timber (CLT) – a high-value wood product that can increase forest revenues. “We’re at the point of demonstrating commercially available technologies,” said FPL engineer Robert Ross, “and the idea that we can take high-grade material out [of dead tree stands].” Continue reading