January 2002-December 2005
Level of Access
This award is to the University of Maine to support the activity described below for 36 months. The proposal was submitted in response to the Partnerships for Innovation Program Solicitation (NSF 0179).
The partners for the award include the University of Maine (Lead Institution), Maine Technology Institute, Eastern Maine Development Corporation, State Department of Economic and Community Development, The Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Maine Department of Transportation, Louisiana Pacific, Dow Chemical, State Farm Insurance, Henderson and Bodwell, The Kenway Corporation, Market Development Alliance of the FRP Composites Industry, APA the Engineered Wood Association, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, USDA Forest Products Laboratory.
The award will support the following activities: (1) strengthen partnerships among the University of Maine, private industry, state organizations, forest product industry organizations, and national laboratories to foster commercialization of composite reinforced wood, (2) develop innovative strategies for commercializing composite reinforced wood hybrids that can become models for other university research centers, establish commercialization projects (reinforced wood composite beams using low-grade hardwoods, disaster-resistant housing using reinforced sheathing panels, novel long-strand composite lumber beams and columns).
Housing industry in the US accounts for 28% of the total construction industry, and most of the wood used is high-grade conventional wood lumber. The supply of high-grade lumber is declining in the US. Reinforced composite wood will allow the use of low-grade lumber from other species of trees in more abundant supply, and provide skilled jobs in Maine. These products will lower the cost of wood products for housing in the US. Increasing the resistance of housing to disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes will make a major impact on the economy of the nation.
Potential Economic Impact
Ninety percent of Maine is forested, and 25% of the state's economy is based on forest resources. The forest economy has traditionally been based on export of raw lumber with unskilled labor and few value added timber products. Other manufacturing jobs have moved from the state recently, leaving unskilled jobs and service industries (e.g., tourism) as the major source of income. Successful commercialization of composite reinforced wood will play a large role in developing a growing state economy. Lower costs for wood products for housing construction will have a major economic impact in the US. Increasing the resistance of housing to disasters will lower the cost of repair, maintenance, and insurance for disasters.
Potential Societal Impact
Maine ranks 29th in the nation in terms of advanced degree scientists/engineers and 50th in science/engineering graduate students. The job market for young scientists and engineers is bleak in Maine. The educational program will include entrepreneurial education as well as science and engineering to provide a skilled workforce for the economy surrounding the new wood-based technology/economy. The housing industry amounts to $800 billion/year in the US alone.
Dagher, Habib J., "Development And Commercialization of Advanced Wood-Based Composites In Maine" (2006). University of Maine Office of Research and Sponsored Programs: Grant Reports. 200.