BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
As part of its mandate to bring research to life—and because it has the ability to push past the boundaries of standard practices to investigate new approaches compared to those working in the commercial forest—the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) Technology Development and Transfer group has initiated demonstrations of novel forest management practices and tools in two national research forests.
Group technical development specialists are organizing demonstrations at the Petawawa National Forest, west of Ottawa, and at the Acadia National Forest, northeast of Fredericton, New Brunswick. One recent partner event held in Petawawa was very well attended, and there are many events planned for the future.
Both the Petawawa and Acadia forests contain a large number of high value hardwood and softwood commercial species like white and red pine, black spruce, balsam fir, maple, beech, oak, birch and poplar, growing in moderate to very fertile soils.
The purpose of the demonstrations is to ensure that experienced and new individuals entering the forest industry are well informed as to the proven tools and technical data already available to them through decades of on-the-ground research and treatment options developed by both the CWFC and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS).
The aim is to help industry optimize value and address challenges such as the impact of climate change on the commercial forest, maintaining bio and wood species diversity, ensuring that the current and future fibre supply is a good fit for a forest industry that is undergoing a period of transformation, and ensuring a consistent and sustainable fibre supply given that a potential mid-term fibre supply shortage is looming. The information shared at these demonstrations is also being presented and packaged for easy delivery using today’s advanced communication tools for those unable to attend in person.
“We are bringing research to life by developing and presenting technologies that can provide answers and solutions on how to approach challenges, based on sound science,” says Derek Sidders, CWFC Program Manager, Technology Development and Transfer.
Because these forests are a controlled and secure environment, he adds that this provides CWFC with the flexibility to push the research envelope to either extreme to discover optimum treatments and designs in a fair and open manner that addresses the issues of the day and can be transferred for use in the commercial forest.
The demonstrations given and planned for both the Petawawa and Acadia forests are focused on novel technologies related to partial harvest practices, regeneration approaches and afforestation methodologies. Participants will also be presented with alternative approaches to herbicides for vegetation management.
Specifically in Petawawa—which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year as a national research forest and has been designated by the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF) as the forest capital of Canada from 2017-2019—the CWFC group is presenting information about site preparation and revegetation practices taking place as part of the ongoing active research program at the forest.
Among the tools displayed and demonstrated at the most recent event was a skid steer-mounted, horizontal drum mulcher and the ‘Grizz’ elevated power mixer, both innovative site prep tools designed for selective use to establish and manage sites being regenerated or rehabilitated.
At the Acadia Forest, afforestation, harvesting, and site preparation applications will be explored and demonstrated to a wide audience that includes landowners, professional foresters, researchers and other stakeholders.
This includes selective site preparation treatments on commercial thinning sites as well as in overstorey removal sites using a Soukone Meri-crusher tool on an excavator, and investigating options to ensure the establishment and retention of the original species mix while achieving enhanced growth by establishing excellent micro-sites and growing conditions for future commercial crops.
CWFC developers will also be demonstrating selective harvesting approaches that promote enhancement of a pre-determined future crop species in a stand conversion environment.
“We have also established on-site stool beds for the retention of short rotation woody crop species and clones from willow and hybrid poplar for use in future revegetation and short rotation woody crop plantations for the Atlantic provinces,” says Tim Keddy, CWFC Wood Fibre Development Specialist.
Additionally, CWFC Technology Development staff are collaborating with CFS/CWFC researchers and organizations like the Canadian Woodlands Forum and the CIF in a number of activities related to technology transfer, including those that evaluate alternative forest management practices that address a changing climate, bioeconomy options and opportunities, and practices to reduce herbicide usage.
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
Alberta is fast becoming a provider of high-quality lignin as a bio-based feedstock to replace compounds made from fossil fuels. The province is also a major supporter of research leading to the development of more commercial products using lignin.
Alberta Innovates (AI) is leading the province’s strategy to commercialize lignin, a complex natural compound in wood. AI has invested $3 million in a $30 million lignin extraction demonstration plant attached to West Fraser’s pulp mill in Hinton, Alberta, with co-investments from West Fraser and federal innovation programs. The plant is equipped with the LignoForce extraction system, noted for its ability to deliver high lignin purity and consistency.
Alberta Innovates is also supporting the development of lignin-based phenolic formaldehyde (PF) resins for use in manufacturing panel boards, in partnership with chemical producer, Hexion Inc.
Additionally, AI is co-hosting the first Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada (PAPTAC) International Lignin Conference taking place Sept 18-20 in Edmonton. The conference will focus on progress in all aspects of lignin chemistry and application and will include a tour of the West Fraser lignin plant in Hinton. For those interested in attending, see the registration link below.
“Alberta Innovates thought there was a better solution to use this natural-sourced resin for other value-added uses which would also allow us to reduce our dependency upon petroleum-based resins,” says Patrick Guidera, Director of Forest Technologies at Alberta Innovates. “With the partnership of West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd, and Hexion Inc. working diligently on researching this brilliant solution—value, not waste—we can all be proud of another disruptive innovative breakthrough for Alberta.”
The province is on the cusp of witnessing the commercialization of several lignin-based PF adhesives to supply the panel board industry.
Hexion, a world leader in specialty chemicals and supplier of adhesive resins to the panel board industry, has recently made a major investment, expanding its research laboratory in Edmonton while employing several chemistry graduates from the University of Alberta to support its well-advanced, lignin-based PF resin R & D program. It has already started commercial trials of formulations for both plywood and oriented strand board (OSB).
In addition to supplying Hexion with high quality lignin, West Fraser intends to become a Hexion customer for its lignin-based PF resin adhesive formulation for plywood. Hexion has conducted commercial trials of their plywood adhesive at a West Fraser plywood plant.
“When we first started this project, we determined that the opportunity for us is to create this market pull by incorporating the lignin into our plywood,” says Eddie Peace, Bio-Products Coordinator at West Fraser. “We felt the best way to encourage that was to engage with Hexion to encourage them to implement a program whereby the lignin could be incorporated into a PF resin. It’s a value-added material that we want to get to at the end of the day.”
Tolko Industries is supporting Hexion’s research related to an adhesive for OSB and has provided strands for testing. Other companies supporting this research are Norbord, Weyerhaeuser, and Louisiana-Pacific. Hexion is planning a commercial trial for its lignin-based PF resin for OSB at the end of August.
John Slayter, Hexion’s North American Director of PF Resin Technology, says he is confident that the positive lab test results demonstrated by their lignin-based PF resins will be replicated in commercial trials.
Panel board producers will be able to use their existing presses to achieve as good or better panel board production and performance results.
“We’re at the point in our development where we are prepared to go to our owners and ask for a capital investment into our manufacturing site to be able to manufacture these formulations,” says Slayter. If all goes according to plan, he says Hexion could have commercial lignin-based PF resins for plywood and OSB available by fall 2019, and will likely need considerably more high-quality lignin to meet customer demand.
Hexion has also developed press modifications and new technology with an industry partner. They have a working demonstration press installed at the Edmonton lab to demonstrate how panel board producers can modify their production methods to be able to use PF adhesive containing even more lignin
than these initial formulations.
The lignin extraction plant attached to West Fraser’s Hinton pulp mill is able to consistently deliver lignin with high purity.
For more information about the upcoming PAPTAC International Lignin Conference in Edmonton, visit http://www.ligninconference.com/. For more information about Alberta Innovate’s lignin commercialization strategy, contact Julia Necheff at [email protected].
On the Cover:
Hannah Dehoog of Smithers, B.C., is catching a lot of attention in the logging community. It’s not just her engaging presence on social media, but her determination and skill as a young female heavy equipment operator working in a decidedly male dominated industry. Read all about Dehoog and the logging work she is doing beginning on page 8 of this issue. (Cover photo courtesy of Tigercat).
Safety evolving with silviculture sector
The Western Forestry Contractors’ Association set out recently to gain an insight into how the silviculture sector has evolved—and where health and safety programs might need to be changed, to reflect that evolution.
There is a place for young women in Canada’s forest industry, and B.C.’s Hannah Dehoog is proof of that. She loves being in the bush operating logging equipment, and has run everything from skidders to leveling feller bunchers, doing steep slope work.
Big B.C. mill investments
The San Group, which recently acquired a mill operation on Vancouver Island, has some ambitious spending plans for its B.C. sawmill and reman operations, including adding a small log mill operation, with HewSaw equipment.
Dealing with the aftermath of forest fires—at the sawmill
B.C. forest company Tolko Industries is successfully handling fire salvaged timber from last year’s massive forest fires, thanks to some changes at their mill operations.
Tackling the tough job of fire salvage
Last summer’s forest fires in B.C. created a lot of salvage work for forest companies including Tolko Industries. But just as Tolko’s employees and contractors were up to the task of fighting the fires, they’re also up to the tough job of salvaging the fire-affected timber.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates.
The Last Word
Tony Kryzanowski says the forest industry needs a better communications approach for advocating wood-based alternatives in the battle against plastic.