You are here

Wood-Based Composites Center (WBC)

Oregon State University

Virginia Tech

Last Reviewed: (not done)

The leading source for fundamental research and education in wood-based composites.

Center Mission and Rationale

The Center mission is to advance the science and technology of wood-based composite materials. The Center promotes and coordinates research and education at four North American universities. It strives to attract students to careers in the wood-based composites and adhesion industries. The Center provides intellectual exchange and interaction among professionals and students interested in: the manufacture and performance of wood-based composites, wood materials science, and wood adhesion.

Always a critical human resource, wood and wood products now become more important as policy-makers (and the public) realize that forest industries will contribute to an effective Earth-friendly strategy for carbon sequestration and reduced fossil fuel reliance. Since wood is a sustainable form of solar energy, the manufacture of wood products consumes far less fossil fuel than competitive materials. Wise timber management, accelerated reforestation and afforestation, and the simultaneous transfer of carbon to durable wood products will play an essential role in CO2 reduction and energy conservation. Central to the efficient utilization of timber resources is the science and technology of wood-based composite materials. The Center supports the industry through fundamental research and graduate student education at Virginia Tech (Lead Institution) and Oregon State University (Partner Site); and while not officially recognized as NSF Center sites, the Universities of British Columbia and Maine, along with North Carolina State University and Mississippi State University also contribute to the Center mission.

Research program

Currect Research Themes

Center research themes are developed and updated by industry members. Current research themes include:

1. Improved Performance and Functionality - Addressing the fundamental study of products functionality, improved short or long term performance and evaluation methods.  Projects focus on specific products or assembled systems and may address:

  • Improved Performance and Durability
  • Functionality
  • Performance Evaluation
  • Newly-developed products associated with coatings, treatments, insulation, etc.

2. Alternate Materials Technology - Addressing the use of non-traditional materials or combinations of materials to produce wood-based composites.  Use of alternate technologies may establish the viability of alternate raw materials for improved product performance and/or lower costs.  Outcomes of research for this theme will support individual member efforts to improve existing products, develop new products, or identify new markets.

  • Raw Materials
  • Sourcing
  • New Market Development

3. Adhesive Technology - Research focused on adhesive and adhesion is a mainstay of the WBC research agenda.  This research theme focuses on understanding the interaction between wood and adhesives as well as fundamental knowledge that can support member efforts to develop new and improved resins or products.

  • Wood-Adhesive Interaction
  • Novel Adhesive Technology
  • Performance

4. Impact of Process - Portions of the manufacturing process can adversely affect wood quality and adhesive performance.  The complexities of mechanical processing, moisture in wood, and pressing must be better understood to help manufacturers balance productivity and quality.  Areas that could benefit from fundamental study include:

  • Moisture
  • Hot Pressing
  • Emissions
  • More efficient use of key raw materials
  • Novel process methodologies
  • Effect of refining technologies on fiber properties
  • Impact of resin blending technology on adhesive consumption and product performance
  • Influeince of temperature and time during processing on adhesive bond performance
  • Effect of processing parameters on wood viscoelasticity
  • Reduced energy input into manufacturing of wood-based composites
  • Dynamics of the extrusion process

Special Activities

The WBC offers annual continuing education short courses at Virginia Tech and Oregon State University on wood adhesion and wood material science, with an empasis on wood composites.  On-line short courses are also available from Oregon State University.  Visit our website for more information. 

Facilities and Laboratory

Extensive chemistry, engineering and microscopy laboratories, as well as pilot-plant facilities, contribute to the WBC research effort.  Detailed descriptions of facilities are posted on the websites of WBC Sites and partner universities.  Contact the Center for additional information and referals for specific needs.

Locations

Virginia Tech

Department of Sustainable Biomaterials
Mail Code 0503, 1650 Research Center Drive

Blacksburg, Virginia, 24061

United States

540-231-7092

540-231-8868

wbc.vt.edu

Oregon State University

Department of Wood Science and Engineering
119 Richardson Hall

Corvallis, Oregon, 97331

United States

541-737-8422

541-737-3385

wbc.vt.edu