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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  / Research Emphasis Areas  / Woody Biomass Utilization  / Research Highlights

53 Research Highlights - Woody Biomass Utilization

Publication Year: 2019
Researchers studied juvenile wood in longleaf pine. USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 1320
Does Getting Old Change Juvenile Tendencies? Maps Show Wood Variability in Mature Longleaf Pine

Juvenile wood in pines is usually shown as a central core of wood, varying little by diameter or cambial age, nested within mature wood tapering to the upper portion of the stem. The present study addresses the degree to which different representatio ...
A selection of retail forest products sampled for the study and microscope slides made for their identification. USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 1331
Fraud in U.S. Retail Forest Products and Forensic Capacity

Fraud and misrepresentation in U.S. retail forest products greatly exceeds the forensic capacity to combat it. ...
Activated carbon made from biochar activated using steam in a rotary calciner. USDA Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 1321
Life Cycle Assessment of Activated Carbon from Woody Biomass

Expanding biofuels and bioproducts production using forest biomass as feedstock contributes to not only alternatives to US fossil fuels, but also facilitates forest restoration treatments by providing new markets for management of woody biomass resid ...
Ek Way Nal jadeite gouge with rosewood handle. Heather McKillop, Louisiana State University
Highlight ID: 1322
Maya Gouge Made of Honduran Rosewood

Handles for wooden tools belonging to Maya elite were crafted from high-quality rosewood. ...
Schematic illustrating diffusion pathways in wood cell wall nanostructure. USDA Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 1325
Mechanism for Diffusion through Wood Cell Walls

Diffusion through unmodified wood cell walls is via a solid polymer diffusion mechanism, which refutes the previously accepted mechanism that diffusion occurs through aqueous pathways inside of the cell walls. ...
Basidiocarp of brown rot fungus Fomitopsis pinicola. University of Minnesota
Highlight ID: 1335
Patterns of Gene Expression Provide Insight into Wood Decay Mechanisms

Comparative examination of gene regulation reveal significant differences among brown rot fungi when colonizing different wood species. ...
Publication Year: 2018
Wood chips torrefied at different temperatures. USDA Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 1300
Biomass Pre-Processing by Torrefaction Improves Biofuel Consistency

Custom-made equipment fabricated for the torrefaction of wood chips now provides the sample quantities needed for application testing and quality control assessments. ...
Torrefied wood chip briquettes produced from forest residues using a portable system near forest setup. USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 1314
Economic Analysis of Making Solid Biofuels and Biochar from Forest Residues Using Portable Production Systems in the U.S.

Higher logistic cost is one of the major bottlenecks to produce renewable power, fuel, or bioproducts from forest residues in large-scale production facilities. Smaller scale and portable production facilities that consume forest residues near to the ...
Top left: Khaya ivorensis. Top right: Cedrela odorata. Bottom left: Guarea grandifolia. Bottom right: Swietenia mahagoni. USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 1316
Machine Vision Wood Identification of Endangered Tropical Woods

Field identification of wood (screening) is the first step in a forensic workflow to combat illegal logging. Similarly, industries interested in proactively managing their supply chains to ensure only legally logged material also need access to such ...
Flaming with special sample holder with thermocouples in the cone calorimeter test. USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 1317
Pyrolysis and Combustion Material Properties of Naturally Heterogeneous Fuel Beds of Southern Pine Forests

Detailed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models for fire behavior of various live and dead foliage can benefit from the Forest Products Laboratory's detailed fundamental measurements for composition, thermal, moisture, pyrolysis, and combustion pr ...
Wood chips storage types (Top-left: Outdoor-open, Top-right: Outdoor-tarped, Bottom-left: Indoor, Bottom-right: Silo). USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 1315
Techno-economic and Environmental Assessments of Storing Woodchips and Pellets for Bioenergy Applications

Storage is the critical operation within the biomass supply chain to reduce feedstock supply risks and to manage smooth year-around operations of a biorefinery or a bioenergy plant. Moreover, storage incurs the cost and produces potent greenhouse gas ...
Publication Year: 2017
Design Building on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts.
Highlight ID: 1270
Environmental building declaration prepared using life cycle assessment

An environmental building declaration for the Design Building on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts was prepared from a whole building life cycle assessment on this first wood-concrete composite building using the emerging cross la ...
Sweetgum trees at free-air carbon dioxide enrichment study plot.
Highlight ID: 1276
Environmental impacts on tree bark chemistry

Evidence shows changes in tree bark chemistry from a long-term elevated carbon dioxide treatment have the potential to impact their conversion to biofuels. ...
Crystallographic comparison of the GlcA-independent CaXyn30A aglycone region with the ligand bound GlcA-dependent CtXyn30A structure.
Highlight ID: 1296
Enzymatic conversion of xylan into valuable products.

Xylan represents a vast store of potential value but rather than seeing beneficial use, much of this reservoir is lost in catastrophic wildfires that result in significant property loss and tragic loss of life. This Forest Service research aims to un ...
Pilot scale near-woods torrefaction system operated at Samoa, CA.
Highlight ID: 1293
Evaluating near-woods processing of post-harvest forest residues for energy production

Forest Service researchers are evaluating the environmental viability of converting post-harvest forest residues into high-quality bioenergy products, such as briquette and torrefied briquette, as viable fossil fuel replacements using near-woods proc ...
White rot fungus, Panerochaete chrysosporium colonizing wood chips.
Highlight ID: 1295
Genetic basis of lignocellulose degradation

Exploiting the recent availability of fungal genomes, Forest Service researchers have developed computational approaches for the identification of key wood decay enzymes. ...
Figure 1. Wood feedstock to final product conversion: (a) micro-chips made from the wood of coniferous tree species; (b) biochar from wood chips carbonized in a pyrolysis system; and (c) activated carbon made from biochar activated using steam in a rotary calciner.
Highlight ID: 1294
New bio-based technology uses waste wood to produce high-value activated carbon

Forest Service scientists investigated making activated carbon products from renewable woody biomass material such as forest or mill residues for technology potential and environmental benefit with a comparison to commercial coal activated carbon. Th ...
Publication Year: 2016
Molecular model of cobalt salcomine with an oxygen attached. Tom Elder, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 658
Catalytic Pulping of Wood

The kraft pulping process has been around for more than 100 years. It is cost effective and efficient but provides a low fiber yield and a complex and expensive chemical recovery process. Using oxygen activated by a transition metal catalyst has the ...
Comparative expression levels of Paenibacillus sp JDR-2 polysaccharide utilization genes when grown on select plant-derived substrates. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 663
Characterization of Microbial Biocatalysts in Lignocellulosic Utilization

Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass would benefit from development of second generation bacterial biocatalysts. The bacterium Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR2, originally isolated from decaying sweetgum wood disks, has the ability to process a vari ...
Proposed Van der waals interactions between a xylooligosaccharide and an appendage depended xylan degrading enzyme. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 662
Development of Enzymes for use in Lignocellulose Processing

The ultimate best use of lignocellulose allows for the selective extraction of defined value streams. To facilitate this, Forest Service research strives to develop new enzymes with unique capabilities in biomass processing. These new enzymes aim to ...
Near-woods integrated system for processing post-harvest residues into bioenergy products. Richard Bergman, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 652
Environmental Evaluation of Converting Post-harvest Forest Residues to Bioenergy Products

Forest residues are a low-value byproduct of timber harvest operations that are typically burned or left to rot. Using forest residues as a bioenergy source replacing fossil fuels may decrease fossil-fuel-based greenhouse gass emissions. Accordingly, ...
Postia, a genus of brown rot fungi. Dan Cullen, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 665
Fungi Use Multiple Strategies for Deconstruction of Woody Biomass

A diverse array of enzymes catalyze the bioconversion of wood toward biofuels and other high-value products. ...
Cross-section of wood cell wall. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 659
Heat Treatment of Green Wood Accomplishes Crystal Hardening

After centuries of study, the structure of the woody cell wall remains poorly understood. Regarding cellulose crystals in green wood, X-ray methods demonstrate the repeating structure of a crystal, but Raman Spectroscopy methods reveal a high level o ...
Publication Year: 2015
D. Jean Lodge measuring the extent of mushroom mycelia on the forest floor three months after a simulated hurricane treatment in which limbs and leaves were trimmed from the canopy and deposited on the forest floor in the Luquillo Experimental Forest of Puerto Rico. Josh Brown, University of New Hampshire
Highlight ID: 615
Opening the Forest Canopy Slows Leaf Decomposition and Nutrient Cycling

Forest canopies are opened by thinning, logging operations, and storms. Results of a simulated hurricane experiment showed canopy opening had the greatest effect in slowing leaf decomposition and nutrient release. Losses of nitrogen to ground water o ...
Publication Year: 2014
Wood and Timber Condition Assessment Manual. Tivoli Gough, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 583
Assessment Manual for Timber Structures Helps Building Inspectors

The Wood and Timber Condition Assessment Manual is an extremely valuable resource for wood design professionals. Forest Service scientists are leading experts in this field and are the "go-to source" for information regarding condition assessment. T ...
Nanocellulose (upper left), an engineering plastic (upper right), and compound made from them (center). Test specimens made from the compound (bottom). Craig Clemons, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 580
Enhancing High-Performance Plastics with Nanocellulose

Forest Service scientists are using nanocellulose to improve the performance of engineering plastics. By applying advanced processing methods, the scientists are able to temporarily reduce the melting point of the engineering plastic so that nanocell ...
The Tucker Renewable Natural Gas unit is a new bioenergy technology that uses wood such as forest biomass as its fuel source. Richard Bergman, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 577
Novel Technology Uses Waste Wood to Make Bioenergy while Sequestering Carbon

Wood companies need high-value uses for wood residues. A new technology developed by Forest Service researchers and their partners converts wood residues into high-value products such as biochar while producing bioenergy. The researchers are measurin ...
Computer-based simulation tools allow designers to gauge the risk of moisture problems in building design. Tivoli Gough, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 581
Possibilities and Pitfalls of Computer Simulation for Building Moisture Analysis

Moisture problems are much less expensive to correct in the building design phase than after the building is constructed. Computer-based simulation tools allow designers to gauge the risk of moisture problems. Although simulation can be useful as a d ...
Short cellulose nanofibrils isolated from wood. DSimaging, LLC
Highlight ID: 587
Short Cellulose Nanofibrils Reinforce Aligned Polyvinyl Alcohol Fibers

Cellulose nanomaterials have recently gained much attention for their potential use for reinforcing polymers and for use in functional materials. Forest Service researchers developed procedures for creating short cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) that are ...
The Xylotron uses machine-visioning technology to identify wood species. John Hermanson, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 585
The Xylotron: A Field-Deployable Machine-Vision Wood Identification System

The Xylotron is a machine-vision-based wood identification system that uses a custom-designed wood imaging device (the Xyloscope), image analysis, and statistical processing software run from a laptop/netbook. With it, users can identify over 150 spe ...
This research will improve the durability of wood-plastic composite deckboards such as the one shown here being evaluated for color. Nicole Stark, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 584
Wood Flour Extraction Improves Moisture Performance of Wood-Plastic Composites

Improving the moisture performance of wood-plastic composites provides a potential avenue toward improving the product's overall durability. Forest Service scientists evaluated methods for pre-treating the wood flour before incorporation into the pla ...
Publication Year: 2013
Three dimensional model of the Button Mushroom enzyme that metabolizes degraded leaf litter. Daniel Cullen, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 445
Common Button Mushroom Studied for Key Role in Recycling Carbon

Recent genome studies of Agaricus reveal specialized adaptations to litter- and soil-rich environments which may be used to remediate contaminated soils. ...
The acoustic measurement system developed by Forest Service scientists and their collaborators has been integrated into the harvesting processor head, enabling tree quality evaluation during the harvesting operation. Peter Carter, Fibre-gen
Highlight ID: 436
New Acoustic Technology Evaluates Wood Quality of Standing Trees

Lack of techniques to assess the quality of standing trees results in inefficient allocation of timber resources and also limits the ability of forest managers to grow high-quality wood with appropriate silvicultural treatments. To address the proble ...
Life-cycle assessments help compares the environmental impacts of using wood decking versus non-traditional products. Tivoli Gough, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 441
Redwood Decking is a Good Choice for the Environment

Building products produce emissions throughout their lifespan, from harvest and manufacturing to use and final disposal. Using building products with low emissions, including greenhouse gases, will mitigate climate change. From cradle-to-grave, redwo ...
Image 1: A picture of PbXynA1 (an xylanases enzyme) with the a xylooligosaccharide (sugar polymer) bound into the active site. Image 2: A close up revealing a large pocket not previously observed in other xylanases (enzymes) of this family. Franz St John, USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 452
Researchers Determine the Structure of Bacterial Protein Involved in Biomass Conversion

Researchers structurally characterized a bacterial protein involved in biomass degradation. The knowledge obtained from this novel protein suggest that it may function better than comparable enzymes in targeting complex lignocellulosic biomass. ...
FPL research looks to improve the safety of pulp bleaching at paper mills. Thinkstock
Highlight ID: 448
Scientists Determine Critical Factors that Caused Peroxide Explosion in Paper Mill

In 2001, a peroxide bleach stage at a paper mill in Evadale, Texas, exploded, rupturing two bleaching towers, destroying a pump, and propelling fragments over 800 yards in all directions. There were no fatalities in this incident, but unfortunately, ...
The LeMay - America
Highlight ID: 432
Study Analyzes Construction Trends to Determine Wood's Potential

By analyzing construction trends from 2011, Forest Service researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory found that the opportunity exists for a nearly three-fold increase in the use of wood building materials in new low-rise nonresidential buildings ...
The only difference between these plywood samples is the direction of cracks in the wood, which obviously affected the adhesive-performance (right image) test results. Anti Rohumaa, Aalto University
Highlight ID: 435
Success of Wood Veneers Influenced by Harvesting Season and Temperature: Plywood Performance and Failure: A New Understanding

Cooperation with Finnish researchers results in new understanding of relationships between veneer processing, veneer properties, and product failure. ...
Publication Year: 2012
Historical data on real prices of softwood sawtimber in the U.S. South and overlapping 2012 baseline projections of prices to 2060 (in 2006 dollars per cubic meter). Peter Ince, Forest Service
Highlight ID: 26
Economic Model Predicts U.S. Forest Product Markets and Timber Demand Trends

Model provides insights on how U.S. competition and trade in forest products could be affected by expanded global use of wood for energy in future decades ...
Electron micrograph image showing the unusual failure of release coating on a postage stamp. Dark regions are pressure-sensitive adhesive; light regions are silicone-release coating that has pulled away from backing paper liner. Tom Kuster, Forest Service
Highlight ID: 22
Forest Service Continues To Make a Better Postage Stamp

Latest research reduces the environmental effect of stamp materials ...
Assessing Wood Utilization Options for Urban Trees Infected by Invasive Species is a comprehensive manual that can be used by professionals. Forest Service
Highlight ID: 23
Making the Most of Beetle-Killed Trees

New manual gives land managers a variety of options for beetle-killed trees ...

Highlight ID: 5
New Drying Process Gives Black Locust Wood Exotic Appearance

Heat treatment that prevents discoloration increases uses of this fast growing wood ...
Publication Year: 2011
Commercial dry kiln is used to heat treat freshly cut hardwood firewood for interstate commerce. Forest Service
Highlight ID: 279
Develop thermal verification guidelines for firewood heat treatment

To stop further spread of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has enforced a heat treatment process for the U.S. firewood industry to heat sterilize all hardwood firewood before it can be shipped o ...

Highlight ID: 280
Elucidating Covalent Bond Formation and Cleavage in Wood

A new technique has been developed to monitor structural changes in the polymers present in wood cell walls. This allows researchers, for example, to look at how brown rot fungi attack lignin structures when the fungi degrade cell walls. It has also ...
TEM micrograph of electrospun polymethyl methacrylate fibers containing 17 weight percent cellulose nano-crystals/Alan Rudie, Forest Service
Highlight ID: 283
High Performance nano-Cellulose Composites

Cellulose nano-crystals (CNC) and cellulose nano-fibrils (CNF) provide strength properties equivalent to Kevlar and can be used in optically clear applications like composite windshields. The Forest Products Laboratory is supporting a project at the ...
Homes with raised floors in New Orleans, Louisiana. Samuel V. Glass, Forest Service
Highlight ID: 286
Moisture Control in Crawl Spaces in Louisiana

Builders and homeowners in the Gulf Region often ask how to insulate a crawl space to avoid moisture problems. The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), in cooperation with Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, monitored conditions in a dozen h ...
Aqueous extract solutions under different pretreatments. Steve Schmieding, Forest Service
Highlight ID: 306
Pretreating Wood Chips for Manufacturing Medium Density Fiberboard

FPL researchers studied how pretreating wood chips before manufacturing medium density fiberboard affected both the end product and the amount of carbohydrates extracted as a potential resource for biofuels or bio-based chemical production. ...
Rice straw appears to be a promising agricultural residue for manufacturing composite panels. William M. Brown Jr.,
Highlight ID: 308
Rice Straw Particleboard

There has recently been a revival of interest in using agriculture residues to produce particleboards and other composite panels due to competition for wood raw materials and for economical and environmental considerations. This study looks at the ef ...
Publication Year: 2010

Highlight ID: 189
Characterizing cellular properties in wood to better understand bulk wood properties

A current aim in forest products research is to efficiently modify wood to tailor it for specific end uses, such as hardening softwoods for flooring or softening wood in pretreatments for biorefineries. ...

Highlight ID: 159
Estimation of environmental emissions associated with U.S. production of lumber and wood panel products including harvesting, forest regeneration, transport and manufacturing

Life-cycle research on wood products plays a vital role in developing strategies for mitigating climate change. The main driving force behind climate change has been the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Un ...

Highlight ID: 185
Heat Sterilization of Firewood for Thermal Eradication of Emerald Ash Borer

FPL researchers have led a joint research effort with USDA APHIS and state regulatory staff to evaluate various heat treatment options and heating times for ash firewood and help firewood industry to successfully implement the heat treatment process ...

Highlight ID: 171
Recalculating the Decay Hazard Index

Climate index values for estimating decay hazard to wood exposed outdoors above ground, commonly known as Scheffer index values, were calculated for 280 locations in the United States (270 locations in the conterminous United States) using the most c ...
The edible black poplar mushroom, Agrocybe aegerita. Forest Service
Highlight ID: 176
Water, Air, and Soil

Forest fungi perform an essential role in recycling woody plant debris and have many potential applications in biotechnology. In 2009, a Forest Products Laboratory chemist worked for ten months as a Senior Fulbright Awardee at the International Gradu ...