U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USDA/FS)

Established in 1905, the Forest Service manages 193 million acres of publically-owned National Forests and grasslands. It has three major subunits: the National Forest System; State and Private Forestry; and Research and Development (R&D). Its R&D mission is to develop and deliver knowledge and innovative technology to improve the health and use of the Nation’s forests and rangelands.

Budget

FY 2015 Proposed $4 million

Research
Focus

Nanotechnology offers an efficient and effective means to capitalize on a major national asset to make forest-derived materials the “materials of choice for the 21st century.” Wood is made up of nanodimensional building blocks that: (1) have strength properties greater than Kevlar® and piezoelectric properties equivalent to quartz, (2) can be manipulated to produce photonic structures, (3) are remarkably uniform in size and shape, (4) possess self-assembly properties, and (5) can be renewably produced in quantities of tens of millions of tons.

FS R&D is developing internal nanotechnology research capacities to effectively partner with industry, academia, and other federal entities and developing the precompetitive science and technology critical to the economic use of nanotechnology-enabled, forest-based materials and products. Current FS R&D focus areas are to: 1) efficiently liberate and produce quantities of cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrils for research and scale up; 2) characterize cellulose nanomaterials; 3) develop the means to efficiently modify the functionality of cellulose nanomaterial surfaces; 4) develop the enabling science and technologies needed to capture the performance properties of cellulosic nanomaterials and produce nano-enabled macroscale composites; and 5) develop multiscale modeling for nano-enable composites.

SPOTLIGHT:

The U.S. forest products industry, through the American Forest & Paper Association Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance, signed a memorandum of understanding with the NSET Subcommittee to form a Cooperative Board for Advancing Nanotechnology (CBAN). The industry is in a unique position to tap the huge potential nanotechnology provides. The industry can upgrade its processes and produce new high-performance consumer products, and become a producer and developer of novel, sustainable nanomaterials to replace non sustainable materials such as those from fossil fuels.

Key
Contacts

Dr. World Nieh, National Program Leader, Forest Products and Utilization, USDA Forest Service
T: 703-605-4197
wnieh(at)fs.fed.us

Dr. Theodore H. Wegner, Assistant Director, USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Office:  (608) 231-9434
twegner(at)fs.fed.us

Funding
Opportunities

Forest Service Research & Development Programs
http://www.fs.fed.us/research/#


Nanotechnology Fact

Exciting new nanotechnology-based medicines are now in clinical trials, which may be available soon to treat patients. Some use nanoparticles to deliver toxic anti-cancer drugs targeted directly to tumors, minimizing drug damage to other parts of the body. Others help medical imaging tools, like MRIs and CAT scans, work better and more safely. Nanotechnology is helping scientists make our homes, cars, and businesses more energy-efficient through new fuel cells, batteries, and solar panels. It is also helping to find ways to purify drinking water and to detect and clean up environmental waste and damage.

Nanomaterials are being tested for use in food packaging to greatly improve shelf life and safety. Nanosensors to detect food-borne pathogens are also being developed for food packaging. New nanomaterials will be stronger, lighter, and more durable than the materials we use today in buildings, bridges, automobiles, and more. Scientists have experimented with nanomaterials that bend light in unique ways that may enable the development of an “invisibility cloak.” The possibilities seem limitless, and the future of nanotechnology holds great potential. For more information, see Benefits and Applications.

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