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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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Durability and Wood Protection Research

Project Title :  Improving survivability and fire safety of forest products and wood-based structures while reducing the hazardous fuel load
Project Number : FPL-4723-2B
Start Date : 10-01-2012
End Date : 09-30-2017

View the 17 publications associated with this project.

Principal Investigator:
Carol A. Clausen

Non Technical Summary
PhotoDecades of fire suppression have disrupted the natural fire cycle of U.S. forests, and currently large areas of forestlands are littered with an unnatural accumulation of small diameter trees and woody debris. Fires on these overstocked stands are more intense and harder to control, and often result in catastrophic crown fires that kill older trees. An estimated 8.4 billion dry tons of material needs to be removed from the National forests and is available for production of engineered composites and biofuels. The market for pellets and biofuels is poised for rapid expansion as processes for efficient conversion of woody debris into biofuels are developed. Likewise, potential uses of small-diameter trees for structural wood composite products also contribute to the Forest Service goal of hazardous fuel reductions. Work in this problem area is intended to address important fire safety issues that could adversely affect potential markets for these products that improve the economics of fuel reductions programs. Many new and innovative forest products, being developed to maximize utilization of our natural resources, are used in engineered composite products and in other applications in which they may be involved in a fire. To insure that there is adequate time for people to escape a building and the fire department to respond to a fire, the contribution of building materials to fire growth within a building is a concern. With continued increased urbanization of the countryside and high incidences of forest fires, fire safety of our homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI) is a major problem nationwide. The number of homes simultaneously involved in a single WUI fire makes the survival of any one structure largely dependent on prior efforts of the homeowner to improve the survivability of their own home via local vegetation control and proper building construction. Our goal is to reduce the fire hazards in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) by improving the quality and flexibility of fire safety recommendations for wood structures.

Objectives Summary
The objectives of this problem are to develop fire performance and fire growth models, characterize fire performance of new building materials, develop methods for post-fire evaluation of structural wood members, assess relative flammability of vegetation, and investigate measures to protect structures during a fire. This research is in conjunction with reducing the hazardous fuel load through development of efficient processes for thermoconversion of woody biomass to bioenergy.

Approach Summary
Work in this problem area to utilize forest materials is two-fold: 1) We will develop improved fire resistance models for engineered wood products, such as CLT, I-joists, and composite lumber products and fire growth models for assessing fire propagation within a structure. Methods will be assessed for post-fire evaluation of structural wood members damaged by exposure to elevated temperatures. Fire safety research will evaluate the relative flammability of new and existing forest products, ornamental vegetation and invasive species. 2) Processes will be developed for proficient thermo-conversion of biomass into biofuels, novel biochars, or pellet products.

Publications associated with this Project

Publication YearTitleDate Posted
2014Application of Quasi-Heat-Pulse Solutions for Luikov’s Equations of Heat and Moisture Transfer for Calibrating and Utilizing Thermal Properties Apparatus09/22/14
2012Chapter 6: Fire damage of wood structures10/29/13
2012Chapter 8: Fire Performance of Cross-Laminated Timber Assemblies (2012 US Edition)02/24/14
2012Chemical Reactions of Simulated Producer Gas with Molten Tin-Bismuth Alloy07/25/14
2013Cone calorimeter tests of wood composites09/03/13
2014ecoSmart landscapes: a versatile SaaS platform for green infrastructure applications in urban environments07/24/14
2012Effect of urea additive on the thermal decomposition kinetics of flame retardant greige cotton nonwoven fabric09/18/14
2013Evaluating fire-damaged components of timber bridges and structures10/29/13
2013Fire performances of foam core particleboards continuously produced in a one-step process01/10/13
2014Foam Core Particleboards with Intumescent FRT Veneer: Cone Calorimeter Testing With Varying Adhesives, Surface Layer Thicknesses, and Processing Conditions07/18/14
2013HRR Upgrade to mass loss calorimeter and modified Schlyter test for FR Wood02/28/13
2014Laboratory investigation of fire protection coatings for creosote-treated timber railroad bridges06/09/14
2013Mechanism of Transport Through Wood Cell Wall Polymers12/31/13
2013Options for NDE Assessment of Heat and Fire Damaged Wood10/24/13
2013Post-Fire Analysis of Solid-Sawn Heavy Timber Beams01/02/14
2012Reaction-to-Fire of Wood Products and Other Building Materials: Part II, Cone Calorimeter Tests and Fire Growth Models01/02/13
2013Treated and Untreated foam core particleboards with intumescent veneer09/06/13

Project Summaries last modified: 12-09-2014