Friday, 3 June 2016

A new generation of products from forest plantations and agri-fibre residue



Researchers from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) are engaged in ACIAR forestry projects in Laos and Vietnam both of which are helping partner scientists and local wood processing industries to improve wood manufacturing processes and consider the development of innovative wood products. In doing so they build local scientific capacity and generate new markets for smallholders to sell their wood and other fibre products.

From left to right: Phouluang Chounlamounty (NUOL), Tien Manh Ha (VAFS), Rod Vella (DAF) and Hoan Nguyen Hai (Griffith University) present the first panel made from sorghum in Australia
A training program, supported by The Crawford Fund, on the development of innovative products from forest plantations and agri-fibre residue, was recently held at DAF’s Salisbury Research Centre. The training was attended by research scientist, Mr Tien Manh Ha from the Vietnamese Academy ofForest Sciences (VAFS), Hanoi, and teacher Mr Phouluang Chounlamounty from the National University of Laos (NUoL). The purpose of the training was to share knowledge of methods to produce composite veneer-products, specifically for multilaminar veneer production and alternative composites using agri-fibre residue. The correct use of technical equipment and adhesive technology was emphasised.  The training included the production of products relevant to the Laos, Vietnam and Queensland processing industries. The products included the first agri-fibre panel made from sorghum in Australia, and multi-laminar LVL panels for furniture (Figure 1).
 
A multilaminar LVL panel
Grain Sorghum is grown in most regions of Queensland as a summer crop and makes up 60% of Australia’s supply.  It is grown almost exclusively for feed grains for the beef, dairy, pig and poultry industries. Once the crop is harvested, the non-utilised part of the plant - the stalk or the straw - is left over and is disposed of either by ploughing back into the soil, which can prove costly, or by burning, a practice which has been identified as a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. A concept being researched by DAF is to use this fibre to create an agri-fibre composite panel that could compliment the current Particle board and Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) industry. 

The two researchers from Vietnam and Laos who were involved in this training gained the knowledge necessary to make engineered products from agri-fibre residues within their respective countries as well as multi-laminar panels for furniture production. They benefited from the program in Australia as neither country currently has the skills or equipment to produce these products.

By Adam Redman and Rod Vella, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and researchers involved in ACIAR projects FST/2010/012 (Laos) and FST/2008/039 (Vietnam)

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