The state-of-the-art Biomaterials Lab at the University of Idaho is a sophisticated laboratory with high-tech equipment that makes it possible to explore emerging and innovative concepts in forest products. From research into biobased composite materials including modifications and product prototype development, to the study of the synthesis of carbohydrate, protein and polyphenolic based polymers for use as thermoplastics and adhesives, the lab at is as sophisticated as it is functional. Faculty and graduate students are developing cost-effective, durable and highly-efficient sustainable materials that are making a difference in our lives everyday. Biomaterials Lab and the Inland Northwest Forest Products Research Consortium
This group represents a cooperative effort between our program, the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, and the Composite Materials and Engineering Center at Washington State University. We believe a multi-disciplinary approach to wood materials research, testing and product development will sustain our timber resources and lead to outstanding discoveries in multiple discipline areas.
- More sustainable designs for wood buildings and uncovering new uses for recycled plastics.
- More successful techniques for bonding thermoplastics to wood substrates for improving the resistance of wood products to decay and insect attack.
- Developing alternative drying schedules in collaboration with sawmills in the Inland Northwest. High-temperature drying may improve energy efficiency and product quality.
- Define the changing timber resource.
- Characterize the unique physical, mechanical, and chemical properties of the small diameter timber resource.
- Evaluate the capabilities of the regional forest industry to harvest and process the changing timber resource.
- Develop new harvesting and processing systems to deal with small-diameter timber under increasingly stringent environmental constraints.
- Develop new products and processing technologies to enhance the value of the changing timber resource.
- Determine potential for using currently non-merchantable wood as biomass for energy.
It’s well known in the industry that the density of western softwoods and plantation hardwoods are generally too low for use in many common, real-world applications, such as the production of flooring or furniture. While being highly desirable in appearance with favorable grain lines and a relatively low-cost price point, these species currently don’t perform well in this application as compared to many eastern hardwood species.