UMaine wood tech featured in NHPR report on what’s next for timber

Several University of Maine initiatives aimed at boosting the state’s forest economy were featured in a New Hampshire Public Radio piece looking at what’s next for New Hampshire timber. The article mentioned several UMaine School of Forest Resources projects that aim to develop new products using wood and wood scraps. The products include new kinds of building materials, like particle board held together with an adhesive that itself is made from wood; and mass timber, thick, strong wood panels made out of layers of lumber and sometimes wood chips. UMaine researchers also are working with the military to make blast-resistant shelters and portable bridges out of wood, combining wood with plastic to make more durable docks and decking, crafting wind turbine blades out of balsa wood from overseas, and even developing and scaling up a chemical process to turn wood scraps into crude oil, distillable into jet fuel, diesel and more, the article states. UMaine also is working with nanocellulose, a wood pulp so fine that researchers say its uses are almost endless and it’s a potential alternative to plastic. “We like to emphasize that it is nature-made,” said Colleen Walker, director of the UMaine Process Development Center. “It’s always been there, but we just learned to extract it and really manipulate it. Because there wasn’t really the tool set available in the scientific community to look at the nanoscale before.”