Wis., April 4 (AScribe Newswire) -- The future of
the U.S. forest products industries, which employ
some 1.1 million Americans and contribute more than
$240 billion annually to the nation's economy, could
depend on how well those industries embrace the
emerging science of nanotechnology, according to
a report just released by a panel of leading researchers
from industry, government labs, and academic institutions.
The hundred-page report,
titled "Nanotechnology for the Forest Products
Industry: Vision and Technology Roadmap," can
be read or downloaded for free from: www.nanotechforest.org.
It will also be available on other websites including
those of the USDA Forest Service's Forest Products
Laboratory (FPL) (www.fpl.fs.fed.us) and the Technical
Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI)
). TAPPI also plans to publish a hard-copy version.
The report is based on presentations
and discussion by some 110 researchers from North
America and Europe, with an interest in wood, paper
or other forest products, who gathered in Virginia
last October to explore the possible role of nanotechnology
-- the science of very small particles -- in the
forest products industries.
The three-day workshop was
co-chaired by Philip Jones of Imerys, a supplier
of minerals to the paper industry, and Theodore
Wegner, assistant director of FPL, the federal government's
wood-utilization research center. The "Roadmap,"
so-called because it is intended to show where the
forest products industry needs to go and how to
get there, describes the U.S. forest products industry
as a mature, somewhat-stagnant energy-intensive
industry that is facing new global competition.
The report, the first comprehensive look nanotechnology
for the U.S. forest products industry, suggests
that the infusion of nanotechnology could lead to
new and improved products and improved, more efficient
a major opportunity to generate new products and
industries in the coming decades," "Roadmap"
says. Potential uses of nanotechnology in forest
products, as identified in "Roadmap,"
include development of intelligent wood- and paper-based
products that could incorporate built-in nanosensors
to measure forces, loads, moisture levels, temperatures,
or pressures, or detect the presence of wood-decay
fungi or termites.
But according to "Roadmap,"
nanotechnology can have an even greater impact.
provide benefits that extend well beyond fiber product
and new materials development and into the areas
of sustainable energy production, storage and utilization....
New ways to produce energy, chemicals and other
innovative products and processes from this renewable,
domestic resource base will help address major issues
facing our nation, including national energy security,
global climate change, air and water quality, and
global industrial competitiveness," the report
According to "Roadmap,"
researchers face a number of challenges including
the lack of adequate technology to measure and study
wood-based materials at the nanoscale level. "Roadmap"
authors call on the forest products industry, universities
with forest products research and education departments,
technology developers and research institutes serving
the forest products industry and federal agencies
to reach a consensus on research priorities.
"The 'Roadmap' is intended
to encourage researchers to begin addressing some
of these issues," said Ted Wegner, assistant
director of the FPL and a co-sponsor of last fall's
The important thing to materials
researchers is that nanoparticles behave and react
very differently from single atoms or molecules
or large quantities of the same matter. (A nanometer
is one billionth of a meter; a typical sheet of
paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. A nanoscale-size
particle can contain anywhere from fewer than 100
to several thousand atoms.)
The unique, sometimes surprising,
qualities of nanomaterials create the potential
for developing products that have new and improved
performance characteristics and could make possible
entirely new products with performance capabilities
never before possible.
- - - -
For additional information:
George N. Couch, FPL Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org,
About FPL: The USDA Forest
Service Forest Products Laboratory, located in Madison,
Wis., was established in 1910 with the mission of
conserving and extending America's wood resources.
Today, its research scientists work with academic,
industrial and other government agencies in exploring
ways to promote healthy forests and clean water,
and improve paper-making and recycling processes.
Through the Advanced Housing Research Center, FPL
researchers also work to develop and improve homebuilding
technologies and materials.
Media Contact: George N.
Couch, email@example.com, 608-231-9295