WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2013 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a public-private partnership to advance the development of the first U.S. commercial facility producing cellulosic nanomaterial from wood. The partnership is between the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) and the U.S. Forest Service.

"We believe in the potential of wood- based nanotechnology to strengthen rural America by creating sustainable jobs and adding timber value while also creating conservation opportunities in working forests," said Vilsack. "This public- private partnership will develop high-tech outputs from the forest products sector, and promote the invention of renewable products that have substantial environmental benefits."

The three-year partnership will build on work done by the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis. The partnership seeks to overcome technical barriers to large- scale wood-based nanotechnology processing, while filling gaps in the science and technology that are needed for commercialization. Initial funding comes from the Endowment and the Forest Service. The partnership is currently seeking additional public and private sector funding.

USDA explained that materials at the nanometer scale have unique properties. Cellulosic nanomaterial has a lower cost than similar nanomaterial and it is made from a renewable resource, the agency said. Potential applications include ballistic glass replacements, body armor, auto and aerospace structural materials, flexible electronic circuits and solar panels.


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