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USDA Grant for Study of Hardwood CLT Panels in Appalachia

Nov. 30, 2012 – Recently, a team of researchers at Virginia Tech with colleagues from the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, the University of Tennessee, and West Virginia University received a grant from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study the use of low-grade hardwood lumber for production of CLT panels. The Virginia Tech research team was led by Drs. Daniel Hindman and Joseph Loferski, and included Dr. Earl Kline, Dr. Brian Bond, and Dr. Henry Quesada-Pineda. Mr. David Kenealy from the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Dr. Timothy Young from the University of Tennessee, and Dr. David DeVallance from West Virginia University were also coinvestigators on the project. 

Low-grade hardwoods are often difficult materials to sell and market due to lower profits and lack of markets. The composite nature of CLTs will allow these lower quality materials to be incorporated in a higher value product. Currently, there are no CLT manufacturing facilities in the United States, and CLT panels produced in Europe and Canada have used only spruce materials. This research can lead to the use of more wood species in CLT production, leading to regional facilities able to use different wood materials sources depending upon market conditions. 

Specific goals of this project are to understand the adhesion needs of hardwood panels cross-laminated, verify current composite construction models to produce CLT mechanical properties, and develop statistical process controls for future CLT manufacturing. Annual conferences for lumber manufacturers, engineers, and future CLT producers are planned in the following years to help build production capacity of CLTs in the United States. Additionally, a set of undergraduate scholarships for research related to CLT production will be awarded by each school.



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