Problem Area 4. Utilization of Southern Resources in Bio-based Products

The efficacious use of our southern forest raw materials begins with their importance in commodity products and then expands into novel products. The fast-grown nature of our wood species often produces a less-than-desirable starting material from which to construct structural products and often requires processing alterations to meet particular codes or standards.

Problem 4a. Influence of raw material properties on composite performance

The unit will characterize physical and mechanical properties of wood components such as wood strands, fibers, and crystallites and their effect on structural composite properties. This sub-element will also encompass improved adhesive systems leading to better synergy between component and composite performance

Problem 4b. Fiber modification and surface chemistry

The unit will refine and develop techniques that can alter cellulosic fibers, particularly their surfaces, in engineered composites. Modification processes include chemical and electrolytic treatments, plasma discharge, and ultrasound. Analytical methods to be employed will be inverse gas chromatography, atomic force microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and time-domain nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Problem 4c. Environmentally-friendly products from bio-based feedstocks

The unit will develop fundamental information on lignocellulosic materials such that they can be more appropriately used as a chemical/bio-based feedstock. The fundamental data collected will be used to define processing techniques such as wood liquefaction technology and the production of synthesis gas and liquid transportation fuels as well as to develop a non-acid hydrolysis process of lignocellulose under high temperature.