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.

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@fs.fed.us

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

Funding
Opportunities

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


Nanotechnology Fact

Although federally-funded R&D yields hard-to-quantify benefits such as students educated, degrees conferred, companies started, patents and copyrights granted, developmental partnerships formed, and private sector investment inflows, there are many indicators of the impact of this ­­­­­investment.

For example, there are over 1,900 U.S.-based companies conducting R&D, manufacturing, or product sales in nanotechnology in 2016. Of these companies engaged in the nanotechnology sector, over 36% have participated in the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer programs funded by the Federal agencies that participate in the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The most recent Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) found approximately 1,500 companies engaged in nanotechnology with approximately 1,100 of these classified as small businesses (less than 500 employees). The difference in the number of companies cited above can be attributed to the year the data was collected and other methodologies.

A noteworthy impact of the NNI has been the focused investment by NNI-participating agencies in the establishment and development of multidisciplinary research and education centers devoted to nanoscience and nanotechnology. NNI agencies have developed an extensive infrastructure of nearly 100 major interdisciplinary research and education centers and user facilities across the United States. This cutting-edge fabrication and characterization equipment provides state-of-the-art nanoscience tools and expertise for research by non-profit or business organizations, whether small or large, for use-inspired research and some of the user facilities are available free-of-charge for non-proprietary work if the user intends to publish the research results in the scientific literature.

In December 2015, Lux Research estimated that nanotechnology-enabled products generated $1.6 trillion in global revenues in 2014; and that figure is anticipated to increase to $3.5 trillion in 2018.

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