January 14, 2021
Dr David DeVallance, the InnoRenew CoE research group leader for Renewable Materials Composites, and researchers Dr Matthew Schwarzkopf and Jaka Pečnik visited the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, WV.
The purpose of the research visit was to further develop a project based on developing composite materials from thermochemically modified short rotation willow. The short rotation willow was grown and harvested as part of the NEWBio project that Dr DeVallance was involved with while a faculty member at WVU. Specifically, the research conducted during the visit at WVU involves developing alternative, value-added, composites from woody crops grown initially for bioenergy purposes.
While at WVU, they prepared blends of short rotation willow, torrefied willow, and polypropylene in five different ratios. The material was produced using a twin-screw extruder and cutting system that generated the final wood plastic composite pellets. In the next step, specimens from different samples will be prepared for mechanical characterization at the InnoRenew CoE laboratories. In addition to the composite research, while at WVU they assisted in setting up an optical lumber scanning system to assist in lumber grading and optimization of secondary manufacturing.