State and Federal Agencies Partner with Hardwood Lumber Industry for Research

March 5, 2024
hardwood designhardwood researchHardwoodIndustryNewsNewsstructural engineeringthermally modified woodwood applicationswood products research

In response to a relatively flat market for graded lumber, there is much interest and activity toward developing structural markets for hardwoods. Significant research has been conducted recently on the development and use of hardwood resources in engineered materials and products, such as cross laminated timber (CLT), glued laminated timber, and laminated veneer products. To steer and coordinate future federal and state research priorities, the USDA Forest Products Laboratory and Mississippi State University co-hosted a structural hardwood needs assessment workshop in Madison, Wisconsin on November 7, 2023.

• Create a forum for industry leadership to meet with state and federal researchers.
• Review recent research conducted on the development and use of lumber and engineered hardwood materials and products
• Develop a corresponding research needs assessment document to guide future research efforts.

Thirty-six individuals, including active scientists and research leaders, from the following organizations participated in this day-long event: USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (research); USDA Forest Service State, Private, and Tribal Forestry; U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities; National Hardwood Lumber Association; Timber Products Inspection Company; Railway Tie Association; North American Matting Association; Stairbuilders and Manufacturer’s Association; Department of Defense Army Corps of Engineers, DEVCOM, and GVSC; Dearborn Companies; Anthony Hardwood Composites; and University researchers from Appalachian State University, Michigan Technical University, Mississippi State University, and West Virginia University

• Implementing and developing hardwood design values. There is a pressing need for developing allowable design values for additional species such as alder, honey locust, sweetgum, sycamore, and yellow poplar.
• Machine stress rating / nondestructive evaluation (NDE) of hardwoods for structural and engineered applications.
• Stair and guard system design/engineering software that can develop building code-compliant structures.
• Wood rail tie research needs include NDE of ties in track to identify maintenance / replacement needs, NDE of ties to assess on- versus off-grade, automated wood identification, and economics/supply.
• Hardwood timber mats. There is a need to develop and implement minimum standardization for grading and strength/stiffness evaluation.
• Hardwood mass timber. There is a current and pressing need for more species and grade layup performance.
• Increasing wood in Department of Defense applications. These include but are not limited to: permanent wood buildings and structures, modular housing, design for portability, domestic species for trailer, bridge, and container decking, alternative species for pallets and crating.
• Thermally modified wood for structural applications; retaining better performance.

Outcomes of meetings like this help guide future research priorities and expenditures at the state and federal levels. By coming together in forums like this we maximize the impacts of our research and minimize redundancy across research programs.

A larger and more broadly scoped follow up meeting hosted by NHLA is being scheduled for
May 8-10, 2024.

RUBIN SHMULSKY, PH.D., Professor and Department Head, Mississippi State University
BOB ROSS, PH.D., USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Project Leader, Retired
LAURICE SPINELLI, PH.D., Post Doctoral Associate, Mississippi State University



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