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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


You are here: FPL Home  / Research  / Facilities and Equipment  / Centennial Research Facility  / Engineered Composites Sciences

Research Unit: Engineered Composites Sciences (4706)

Composites research focuses on developing highly engineered building products from low value materials for production of wood- or natural-fiber based composites as well as wood-plastic composites.
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Research Focus Areas

  • Understanding fundamental relationships between wood, natural fiber, and alternative materials to optimize composite processing and performance
  • Improving the performance, durability, and value of existing composites while defining the next generation of hybrid composites made from natural fibers and alternative materials
  • Developing tools to address resource sustainability, enhance recyclability, and minimize the environmental effects of composite processing

The Engineered Composites unit uses naturally renewable wood-based materials to

  • Promote resource sustainability and recycling
  • Improve forest health by manufacturing high-value products from low-value resources
  • Provide improved value, service life, and utility to consumers
  • Improve economic health by promoting jobs in forest-dependent rural communities
Ongoing Research Includes:
  • Value-added composite lumber and oriented strandboard (OSB) panels from waste biomass and small diameter wood
  • Medium density fiberboard (MDF) from wood fiber, rice straw, and agricultural residuals
  • Reactive extrusion of composites from wood-derived materials and polymers
  • Microstructure evaluation to improve performance of polymer composites
  • 3-D engineered fiberboard processing and optimization
  • Destructive and non-destructive testing
  • Understanding fundamental changes caused by weathering
  • Microwave heating and pressing in a pressurized/vacuum environment
  • Producing cellulose nanocomposites by breaking down wood fibers into their elementary nanofibrils then using those nanofibers to reinforce various composites
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Research examines the following products:

  • Conventional wood-based composites
  • Plywood; OSB; particleboard; fiberboard; medium density fiberboard; hardboard
  • Wet-formed composites such as 3-D engineered fiberboard
  • Wood-thermoplastic composites
  • Nanocomposites