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2010-07-21

USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)

The USDA Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) identifies and conducts innovative wood and fiber utilization research that contributes to conservation and productivity of the forest resource, thereby sustaining forests, the economy, and quality of life.  FPL uses science and technology to promote healthy forests and forest-based economies, and is recognized around the world as a source of unbiased information about wood science and use.  

Founded in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1910, the Forest Products Laboratory celebrated 100 years of research and public service in June 2010.  Also in June 2010, FPL opened a new combined research facility, allowing for maximum collaboration between scientists and with outside partners.  The 87,000 square foot Centennial Research Facility houses state-of-the-art equipment that allows scientists to perform full-scale testing of wood-framed buildings, formulate environmentally friendly wood preservatives, develop composite products in a manufacturing-friendly space, and test the durability of wood products with a one-of-a-kind weathering chamber.


FPL Research Emphasis Areas

  • Underutilized Woody Biomass – Developing uses for small-diameter softwoods, underutilized hardwoods, and urban woody biomass to improve forest health, decrease fire risks, boost local economies, and provide renewable products.
  • Nanotechnology – Using nanotechnology tools and nanoscale materials to enhance the utility or performance of wood- and fiber-based products, understand wood properties at their most fundamental level and how they differ, and develop totally new products.
  • Forest Biorefinery – Processing forest feedstocks, such as waste from wood processing plants, tree tops and limbs, and urban waste wood can produce higher value products, such as ethanol, specialty chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Advance Wood Structures – Creating advanced technologies and alternative building methods can greatly enhance the value of wood in residential, nonresidential, and transportation structures.
  • Advanced Composites – Developing engineered biocomposites to simultaneously meet diverse needs for high-performance building and commodity products while maximizing the sustainability of forest resources.

Why membership in IUFRO is important to FPL

Membership in IUFRO is important to FPL for the following reasons, among others:

  • IUFRO provides the opportunity for FPL researchers to receive feedback from peers in other countries on scientific information they have generated and shared via conferences and publications
  • Membership in IUFRO fosters international cooperation and provides opportunities for partnerships and collaboration
  • FPL researchers gain information on scientific discoveries shared by other IUFRO members, allowing FPL to stay on the cutting edge of science on a world-wide basis

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