Research Highlights

Publication Year: 2017

Highlight ID: 1289
Enabling cellulose nanomaterial commercialization

Cellulose nanomaterials are a high-value product that can be made from low-value wood. ...

Highlight ID: 1271
Improving biopolymers for packaging applications using surface-tailored cellulose nanocrystals

Demand is rapidly increasing for environmentally friendly packaging materials that are derived from renewable resources and are biodegradable, but many of these "green" polymers do not perform as wel ...
Uniaxial strains (?y) and stiffnesses (Q) for two paperboard specimens. Horizontal gray lines represent median failure location.
Highlight ID: 1283
Local stiffness variation of paperboard examined in uniaxial tension

Small regions of heterogeneity in paper stiffness can provide places for sheets to fail. Forest Service researchers are the first to develop methods for measuring local stiffness of paper. ...
Lignin-containing cellulose nano-crystals
Highlight ID: 1284
Production of cellulose nanocrystals from raw wood via hydrothermal treatment

Hydrothermal treatment can be used for production of cellulose nanocrystals directly from green wood. Forest Service scientistsused Raman spectroscopy to better understand the molecular details of thi ...
Fig. 1 General experimental flow diagram of p-TsOH fractionation of wood for producing fibers, cellulose nanofibrils (LCNF), lignin nanoparticles (LNP), sugar/biofuel, and furfural. JY Zhu, USDA Forest Service Fig. 2 Application p-TsOH fractionation for producing lignin containing cellulose nanofibrils (LCNF) and lignin nanoparticles (LNP).
Highlight ID: 1287
Scientists discover rapid and near-complete dissolution of wood lignin by a recyclable acid hydrotrope

A low-temperature (below water boiling point) wood fractionation process has the potential for developing disrupting technologies for sustainable and economic production of wood pulp, wood-based nanom ...
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 ...
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, bu ...
Researchers are developing improved methods for processing cellulose nanofibrils. Rob Sabo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 653
Improving the Hydrolysis and Fibrillation of Wood Into Cellulose Nanomaterials

Cellulose nanomaterials have been receiving an increasing amount of interest from both the scientific and industrial communities because of their interesting properties, including good strength, absor ...
Publication Year: 2015
Sequential vacuum treatment of southern pine with naturally occurring cellulose nanocrystals followed by biocide demonstrated penetration of wood before agglomeration occurred (left), but reversing the treatment sequence resulted in agglomeration on the surface of southern pine (right). USDA Forest Service
Highlight ID: 602
Cellulose Nanocrystals Chemically Entrap Biocide in Wood

Forest Service scientists evaluated naturally occurring cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) that are reported to have unique chemical properties and impart high strength were evaluated for the potential to i ...
The dots are microscopic beads and the lines are fungal hyphae. The beads turn from red to green when exposed to oxidation. Notice that the bead next to the fungus is more green than the others. USDA Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 618
How Does Wood Decay Start?

How do fungi rot wood? Using new tools, fluorescent dye attached to tiny beads, and laser confocal microscopy, Forest Service scientists were able to follow oxidation on a microscopic level. The infor ...
New model of wood cellulose in never-dried and dried states. Umesh Agarwal, USDA Forest Service.
Highlight ID: 619
Using Raman Spectroscopy to Analyze Wood, Cellulose-Nanomaterials, and Their Composites

Raman spectroscopy provides information based on molecular vibrations and is well-suited to analyze wood and cellulose-nanomaterials. Using a recently developed method to determine the fraction of cel ...
Publication Year: 2013
The localized stiffness of thin paper materials can now be measured with a single test. Thinkstock
Highlight ID: 444
New Method Measures Localized Stiffness of Thin Paper Materials with a Single Test

Forest Products Laboratory researchers have developed a method to measure localized stiffness of thin paper materials with a single test. Although developed for use on problems in the paper industry, ...
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 n ...
Publication Year: 2012
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 ...
Highlight ID: 14
New Cellulose Nanomaterials Pilot Plant Keeps Up With Market Demand

Materials are being supplied to three government agencies and six partner universities to accelerate the development of advanced cellulose-reinforced composites, and printed, flexible electronic circu ...

Highlight ID: 3
New SPORL Process Efficiently Converts Biomass to Sugars and Ferment

Preliminary laboratory evaluation confirms the high performance of the SPORL process for pretreatment of Douglas fir ...
Publication Year: 2011
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 ...
Publication Year: 2010

Highlight ID: 175
Scale-up of cellulose nano material production

There is considerable research internationally on cellulose nano-materials as reinforcement fibers for high strength composites. A persistent problem has been unavailability of cellulose nano-crystals ...

Team Members

NameJob TitlePhone

Agarwal, Umesh P.
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Research Chemist608-231-9441

Baez, Carlos
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Engineering Technician608-231-9428

Considine, John M.
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Materials Research Engineer608-231-9525

Gleisner, Roland
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Engineering Technician608-231-9426

Houtman, Carl J.
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Chemical Engineer608-231-9445

Huberty, Sarah
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Program Support Assistant608-231-9465

Mann, Doreen
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Physical Science Technician608-231-9404

Moore, Roderquita
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Research Chemist608-231-9393

Ralph, Sally
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Reiner, Richard
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Chemical Engineer608-231-9442

Scott, C Tim
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General Engineer (Volunteer)608-231-9435

Tang, Xiaoyan
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Engineering Technician (Materials)608-231-9405

Zhu, J.Y.
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Research General Engineer608-231-9520

Products (Publications & Patents)

Below are the 50 most recent products author or co-authored by researchers of this unit that have been posted, sorted by publication year and title. To access the complete repository of FPL products, click here.
Publication YearTitleDate Posted
2018Current characterization methods for cellulose nanomaterials


2018Determination of constitutive properties in inverse problem using airy stress function


2018Effect of freeze-drying on the morphology of dried cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) and tensile properties of poly(lactic) acid-CNC composites


2018Effects of mechanical fibrillation time by disk grinding on the properties of cellulose nanofibrils


2018Facile synthesis of highly hydrophobic cellulose nanoparticles through post-esterification microfluidization


2018Fungal lignin peroxidase does not produce the veratryl alcohol cation radical as a diffusible ligninolytic oxidant


2018Lessons learned from 150 years of pulping wood


2018Lignin-containing cellulose nanofibril-reinforced polyvinyl alcohol hydrogels


2018Mechanical characterization of cellulose nanofibril materials made by additive manufacturing


2018New cellulose crystallinity estimation method that differentiates between organized and crystalline phases


2018Performance of high lignin content cellulose nanocrystals in poly(lactic acid)


2018Processing bulk natural wood into a high-performance structural material


2018Production of high lignin-containing and lignin-free cellulose nanocrystals from wood


2018SPORL pretreatment spent liquors enhance the enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose and ethanol production from glucose


2018The nanostructures of native celluloses, their transformations upon isolation, and their implications for production of nanocelluloses


2018Water retention value for characterizing fibrillation degree of cellulosic fibers at micro and nanometer scales


2017Cellulosic ethanol byproducts as a bulking agent


2017Chapter 20: Stiffness heterogeneity of multiply paperboard examined with VFM


2017Characterization of extractives in durable and non-durable hardwoods: Black locust, Catalpa, and Honey mesquite


2017Chemical modification of nanocellulose with canola oil fatty acid methyl ester


2017Comparative characterization of extractives in Alaskan Yellow, Eastern Red, and Western Red Cedars


2017Comparative study of fungal deterioration in Liquidambar orientalis mill heartwood extractives


2017Contribution of residual proteins to the thermomechanical performance of cellulosic nanofibrils isolated from green macroalgae


2017Conversion economics of forest biomaterials: risk and financial analysis of CNC manufacturing


2017Effect of fiber drying on properties of lignin containing cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrils produced through maleic acid hydrolysis


2017Effect of sample moisture content on XRD-estimated cellulose crystallinity index and crystallite size


2017Increasing the revenue from lignocellulosic biomass: maximizing feedstock utilization


2017Integrated production of furfural and levulinic acid from corncob in a one-pot batch reaction incorporating distillation using step temperature profiling


2017Integrated production of lignin containing cellulose nanocrystals (LCNC) and nanofibrils (LCNF) using an easily recyclable di-carboxylic acid


2017Low-temperature microbial and direct conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to electricity: advances and challenges


2017Nanocomposites from lignin-containing cellulose nanocrystals and poly(lactic acid)


2017Nanofibrillated cellulose from appalachian hardwoods logging residues as template for antimicrobial copper


2017Phosphomolybdic acid and ferric iron as efficient electron mediators for coupling biomass pretreatment to produce bioethanol and electricity generation from wheat straw


2017Polyoxometalate-mediated lignin oxidation for efficient enzymatic production of sugars and generation of electricity from lignocellulosic biomass


2017Preparation and characterization of the nanocomposites from chemically modified nanocellulose and poly(lactic acid)


2017Producing wood-based nanomaterials by rapid fractionation of wood at 80 °C using a recyclable acid hydrotrope


2017Production of Cellulose Nanocrystals from Raw Wood Via Hydrothermal treatment *


2017Raman spectroscopy in the analysis of cellulose nanomaterials


2017Raman spectroscopy of CNC-and CNF-based nanocomposites


2017Rapid and near-complete dissolution of wood lignin at ≤80°C by a recyclable acid hydrotrope


2017Rheometry of coarse biomass at high temperature and pressure


2017Sensitivity analysis of hybrid thermoelastic techniques


2017Smoothly varying in-plane stiffness heterogeneity evaluated under uniaxial tensile stress


2017Superflexible Wood


2017Tailored and integrated production of carboxylated cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) with nanofibrils (CNF) through maleic acid hydrolysis


2017Thermally stable cellulose nanocrystals toward high-performance 2D and 3D nanostructures


2017Toward sustainable, economic, and tailored production of cellulose nanomaterials


2017Using a fully recyclable dicarboxylic acid for producing dispersible and thermally stable cellulose nanomaterials from different cellulosic sources


2016A comparison of cellulose nanofibrils produced from Cladophora glomerata algae and bleached eucalyptus pulp


2016A survey of bioenergy research in Forest Service Research and Development


2016Acridine Orange Indicates Early Oxidation of Wood Cell Walls by Fungi


2016Batch fermentation options for high titer bioethanol production from a SPORL pretreated Douglas-Fir forest residue without detoxification


2016Bioconversion of woody biomass to biofuel and lignin co-product using sulfite pretreatment to overcome the recalcitrance of lignocelluloses (SPORL)


2016Biorefinery lignosulfonates from sulfite-pretreated softwoods as dispersant for graphite


2016Chapter 7: Use of VFM for Heterogeneity Evaluation of Materials Under Uniaxial Tensile Stress


2016Chapter 8 optimized test design for identification of the variation of elastic stiffness properties of Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) pith to bark


2016Conversion of SPORL pretreated Douglas fir forest residues into microbial lipids with oleaginous yeasts


2016Efficient Conversion of Lignin to Electricity Using a Novel Direct Biomass Fuel Cell Mediated by Polyoxomethalates at Low Temperatures


2016Endoglucanase post-milling treatment for producing cellulose nanofibers from bleached eucalyptus fibers by a supermasscolloider


2016Fabrication of microfibrillated cellulose gel from waste pulp sludge via mild maceration combined with mechanical shearing


2016Fermentative high-titer ethanol production from Douglas-fir forest residue without detoxification using SPORL: high SO2 loading at low temperature


2016Green and low-cost production of thermally stable and carboxylated cellulose Nanocrystals and nanofibrils using highly recyclable dicarboxylic acids


2016Highly thermal-stable and functional cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrils produced using fully recyclable organic acids


2016Highly transparent, low-haze, hybrid cellulose nanopaper as electrodes for flexible electronics


2016Microbial lipid production from SPORL-pretreated Douglas fir by Mortierella isabellina


2016Molecular structure of sodium lignosulfonate from different sources and their properties as dispersant of TiO2 slurry


2016Pilot-scale demonstration of SPORL for bioconversion of lodgepole pine to bioethanol and lignosulfonate


2016Probing crystallinity of never-dried wood cellulose with Raman spectroscopy


2016Reaction kinetics based optimization of furfural production from corncob using a fully recyclable solid acid


2016Techniques for characterizing lignin


2016Understanding longitudinal wood fiber ultra-structure for producing cellulose nanofibrils using disk milling with diluted acid prehydrolysis


2016Wood-derived materials for green electronics, biological Devices, and energy applications


2015Case studies on sugar production from underutilized woody biomass using sulfite chemistry


2015Cellulose Nanocrystal Entrapment of Benzalkonium Chloride in Southern Pine: Biological, Chemical, and Physical Properties


2015Comparison of Cellulose Supramolecular Structures Between Nanocrystals of Different Origins


2015Effect of Hot-Pressing Temperature on the Subsequent Enzymatic Saccharification and Fermentation Performance of SPORL Pretreated Forest Biomass


2015Effects of process variables on the yield stress of rheologically modified biomass


2015Estimation of S/G ratio in woods using 1064 nm FT-Raman spectroscopy


2015Facile preparation of nanofiller-paper using mixed office paper without deinking


2015Formation of Irreversible H-bonds in Cellulose Materials


2015High titer and yield ethanol production from undetoxified whole slurry of Douglas-fir forest residue using pH profiling in SPORL


2015High Titer Ethanol and Lignosulfonate Production from SPORL Pretreated Poplar at Pilot Scale


2015Highly transparent and toughened poly(methyl methacrylate) nanocomposite films containing networks of cellulose nanofibrils


2015LCA Study for Pilot Scale Production of Cellulose Nano Crystals (CNC) from Wood Pulp


2015Mountain pine beetle infestation: GCxGCTOFMS and GC-MS of lodgepole pine (pinus contorta) acetone extractives


2015Naturally p-Hydroxybenzoylated Lignins in Palms


2015New Model of Wood Cell Wall Microfibril and Its Implications


2015Optimizing cellulose fibrillation for the production of cellulose nanofibrils by a disk grinder


2015Physical and Mechanical Properties of Cellulose Nanofibril Films from Bleached Eucalyptus Pulp by Endoglucanase Treatment and Microfluidization


2015Production of cellulose nanofibrils from bleached eucalyptus fibers by hyperthermostable endoglucanase treatment and subsequent microfluidization


2015Regulation of Gene Expression during the Onset of Ligninolytic Oxidation by Phanerochaete chrysosporium on Spruce Wood


2015Self-assembled optically transparent cellulose nanofibril films: effect of nanofibril morphology and drying procedure


2015Tailoring the yield and characteristics of wood cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) using concentrated acid hydrolysis


2015The effect of polarity of extractives on the durability of wood


2015Using a combined hydrolysis factor to optimize high titer ethanol production from sulfite-pretreated poplar without detoxification


2015Using sulfite chemistry for robust bioconversion of Douglas-fir forest residue to bioethanol at high titer and lignosulfonate: A pilot-scale evaluation


20141064nm FT-Raman spectroscopy for investigations of plant cell walls and other biomass materials


2014A Highly Diastereoselective Oxidant Contributes to Ligninolysis by the White Rot Basidiomycete Ceriporiopsis subvermispora


2014A novel rheometer design for yield stress fluids


2014Alkaline Method for Dissolving Cellulose *


Research Projects

Below are 13 research projects associated with this research unit.
Project NumberTitleProject Dates
FPL-4709-2BAdvancement of the Science and use of Cellulose Nano-Materials

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019

FPL-4709-1AAdvancing the forest biorefinery

08-24-2007 - 08-23-2012

FPL-4709-3-TDeveloping new and innovative methods to convert wood and other lignocellulosics into fibers and chemicals

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4709-2ADevelopment of cellulose nano-crystals

08-24-2007 - 08-23-2012

FPL-4709-2-TImproved papermaking properties of high-yield mechanical and chemi-mechanical pulps, which make more efficient use of our wood resource

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4709-1-TNew technologies for the fractionation of wood to produce pulp and to bleach it

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4709-4BPaper and Fiber Physics

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019

FPL-4709-4ARecycle and deinking of waste paper

08-24-2007 - 08-23-2012

FPL-4709-5AStrength and performance of paper and paperboard

08-24-2007 - 08-23-2012

FPL-4709-1BThe Forest Biorefinery

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019

FPL-4709-4-TUnderstand the biogenesis and molecular architecture of wood cell walls, environmental stresses and transformation in the industrial process

07-31-2002 - 07-30-2007

FPL-4709-3BWood Fiber and Chemical Products

10-01-2012 - 09-30-2019

FPL-4709-3AWood fiber and pulping

08-24-2007 - 08-23-2012


fplForest Thinnings Produce Thermomechanical Pulp and Quality Lumber

A research collaboration among FPL, University of Idaho (Moscow), Pacific Northwest Research Station, Colville National Forest, Ponderay Newsprint Company (PNC), and Ponderay Valley Fiber (PVF) has addressed two forestry-related issues, one of environmental and one of economic concern: overcrowding of forests in the western United States and a diminishing supply of pulpwood from public and private lands in the same region.

Preliminary FPL research showed that small-diameter, thinned trees, once thought to be inferior, are in fact suitable for lumber and pulp production. Furthermore, less refining energy was required to produce pulp from forest thinnings than from conventional wood supplies. To convince the pulp and paper industry that thinnings are a good alternative source of wood fiber, researchers demonstrated their findings at Ponderay Newsprint company and Ponderay Valley Fiber. Results of this study show that lumber produced from forest thinnings meets or exceeds the saw mill specification. Chips generated from forest thinnings as either whole logs or sawmill residuals produced commercial-quality thermomechanical pulp for newsprint.

This collaboration with the Pacific Northwest Research Station and Colville National Forest continues, now evaluating bark-beetle-killed pines for use in pulping and paper products.

Lab Notes - FPL's online news feed

Below are the 10 most recent Lab Notes blog postings pertaining to this research unit.

TitleDate Posted
FPL-developed technology contributed to the development of the first alternative jet fuel made from forest residues. (Photo courtesy of NARA.) FPL Research Helps Fuel Coast-to-Coast Flight

Washington state-based Alaska Airlines made history flying the first commercial flight using the world’s first renewable, alternative jet fuel. The fuel was made from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of mana...
FPL-2011-24FPL Partner Procures Patent:

Whether serving as a bookshelf, tabletop, or wall panel, the composite board is a ubiquitous construction material found in furniture and homes alike. Traditional composite boards use mankind's most trusted building resource, wood, as a base — but ...
Junyong Zhu, FPL research general engineerResearchers Honored with Fellowship

TAPPI, the leading association for the worldwide pulp, paper, packaging, and converting industries, has announced the selection of FPL’s Carl Houtman and Junyong Zhu as TAPPI Fellows...
JY-ZHUFPL Researcher Receives 2014 TAPPI Research and Development Technical Award

JunYong Zhu, research general engineer at the Forest Products Laboratory, is winner of the 2014 Research and Development Technical Award and William H. Aiken Prize by TAPPI’s International Research Management Committee (IRMC). This award is given f...
David Vahey, FPL research materials engineer (retired)A Winning Paper...on Paper

A journal article authored by Forest Products Laboratory researchers David Vahey (retired) and John Considine has been selected as the TAPPI Journal Best Research Paper for 2013...
Sykes-pulpingWomen's History Month: FPL Remembers Marguerite Sykes

Is paper one of the first things that comes to mind when you think about forest products? FPL has been at the forefront of developing innovative and environmentally friendly methods for producing this ubiquitous product. Chemist Marguerite Sykes, wh...
FPL Researcher JunYong ZhuDistinguished Scientist Award Goes to FPL Researcher

JunYong Zhu, research general engineer at the Forest Products Laboratory, was recently presented with the Forest Service Deputy Chief's Distinguished Science Award...
FPL employee Vance Setterholm in the pilot plant, circa 1980 Throwback Thursday:

This image from the 1980's shows Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) employee Vance Setterholm standing at the reel end of the paper machine in FPL's pilot plant. He's inspecting a corrugated container made from press-dried paper...
rains_headshotA "Nexus of Innovation" for the U.S. Forest Service

In a recent feature story from, FPL Director Michael Rains describes the Forest Products Laboratory as "a one-of-a-kind resource at the intersection of many Forest Service goals."
Hydrogen peroxide and caustic soda:

When hydrogen peroxide is mixed with caustic soda as part of the pulping or paper-making process, potentially dangerous amounts of heat and oxygen can develop. As a result, catastrophic events have occurred at several mills in Europe and North Americ...