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


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Environmental impacts on tree bark chemistry

Sweetgum trees at free-air carbon dioxide enrichment study plot.
Sweetgum trees at free-air carbon dioxide enrichment study plot.
Snapshot: Evidence shows changes in tree bark chemistry from a long-term elevated carbon dioxide treatment have the potential to impact their conversion to biofuels.

Changes in plant tissue chemistry due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are well documented; however, the effects on tree bark chemistry have been largely ignored. Tree bark is a complex tissue composed of both the living inner bark (phloem) and the dead outer bark. As a tree grows, the outermost layers of the inner bark are transformed into the innermost layers of outer bark. Functions for whole bark include transporting the products of photosynthesis, sealing moisture within the tree, and providing protection against damaging external agents (e.g., insects) and events (e.g., fire). Forest Service scientists conducted a study to leverage a long-term field experiment in which sweetgum trees were subjected to elevated carbon dioxide treatment over a 12-year time frame. They harvested trees and separated bark specimens into their inner and outer bark components for analysis. Shifts in chemical composition were identified; increased levels of inorganics have the potential to impact thermochemical conversions (such as pyrolysis and gasification) for this biofuel resource.
Princpal Investigator(s):
 Eberhardt, Thomas

Research Location:
  • Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory and Southern Research Station

External Partners:
  • Louisiana State University
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • University of Tennessee

Fiscal Year: 2017
Highlight ID: 1276
Related Research Emphasis Areas: