Scholarly Works, Sustainable Biomaterials

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Research articles, presentations, and other scholarship


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 107
  • Realizing a dream: linking sustainable enterprise development with sound forest management – the case for Black Walnut Syrup
    Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (New River Symposium, 2024-04-12)
    Virginia Tech and Future Generations University have been collaborating on projects in the region that foster sustainable nature-based enterprises. For several years, the focus has been on maple syrup, a product with a deep heritage in the New River Valley and surrounding areas. Recently, we have built on the experience with sugar maple, and have conducted research and outreach with another tree syrup – black walnut. Black walnut is plentiful and well suited to many sites in the region. The tapping process ensures that the tree is not harmed and will continue to provide ecological benefits. Well known in other regions for its timber quality, the species is not well known for producing tree syrup. But black walnut syrup is not well-known but is fetching higher prices than maple syrup and is popular among bakers, especially in the New York City area. The author won first prize for his black walnut syrup at the 2022 New River Valley Fair! Our outreach and research projects have focused on tree syrup and non-timber forest products. Many in the area request assistance to assess the potential for tree saps. Our team has developed demonstration sites and conducted outreach activities with landowners at several sites including Tazewell, Montgomery, and Giles Counties. Research is needed to gather input from landowners, evaluate the potential for sustainable economic development, and incorporate black walnut in forest management plans. We will discuss black walnut syrup’ potential to foster sustainable development, build community resilience, and ensure sustainable land management.
  • Reflecting on East Africa: Incorporating Sustainable Development Goals into Curriculum in Virginia
    Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (2023-11-14)
    Organized, presented, and moderated; for International Education Week
  • Understory Botanicals and Eatables: A Guide to Educational Resources for Appalachian Agroforestry by the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network
    Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (2023)
    The purpose of this series is to describe particular production systems for small holdings in Appalachian cove forests. In this scenario, we will describe how to use the forest understory to grow forest botanicals for nutrition and health uses, and as a source of income. There are numerous examples of understory plants that can be grown in the region - each of which can contribute to income and nutrition and sustain the landscape. Agroforesters recognize and celebrate the historical legacy these plants represent for residents in the region.
  • Making Maple Syrup in Virginia
    Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (2023-03-14)
    Invited presentation to the Lifelong Learning Institute.
  • SDGs in East Africa-Centered Education: Lessons from a Fulbright-Hays Institute
    Cranwell, Lindy; Emmett, Robert; Fitzgerald, Rachel; Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (2023-11)
  • Commercial products derived from plants: Maple Syrup
    Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (2023-02-13)
    An invited lecture to biology students at Radford University.
  • East African History, Geography, and Sustainability: Tanzania and Kenya
    Coffee, Frances; Hammett, A. L. (Tom); Gibson, Lisa (2023-11-30)
  • Engaging Students in NTFPs- Opportunities for Experiential Learning
    Hammett, A. L. (Tom); Hindman, Daniel (2023-06-07)
  • Unpacking the Complexities of International Learning: Reflections from East Africa
    Council, Austin; Thompson, Joshua; Emmett, Robert; Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (2024-02-08)
    International education is complex and fraught with nuances, especially in the context of Africa, a continent that has been historically exploited and continues to be absent from many western curricula. Therefore, it is important to critically attend to the dynamics facing communities we interact with abroad. In June 2023, a group of Virginia Tech instructors, professors, graduate students, administrative/professional faculty and Virginia public school educators embarked on a cross-cultural, professional learning experience to Tanzania and Kenya as part of the Virginia Tech East Africa Summer Institute for Educators.
  • Chinese Consumers' Attitudes Toward Certified Wood Products
    Liu, Lijun; Sun, Xiufang; Hammett, A. L. (Tom) (Forest Products Society, 2024-01-19)
    While environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been active in China in promoting forest certification, Chinese consumers’ perceptions of certified wood products in the marketplace are unclear. A survey focused on consumers’ wood-product consumption patterns was conducted in three cities—Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai—from July to August 2015. This study used data from the survey to assess urban Chinese consumers’ attitudes toward certified wood products and the demographic differences affecting these attitudes. Regression analysis was conducted to test whether consumers’ social-economic characteristics link with their attitudes toward certified wood. We found mixed correlations between these consumers’ attitudes and their demographics and positive correlations between their attitudes and exposure to environmental campaigns and environmental education. The results from this study will improve the understanding of Chinese consumers’ attitudes toward certified wood products and help producers and marketers better understand the market potential for certified products and more efficiently meet consumers’ needs. This study will also help NGOs interested in conservation to develop their future programs in China.
  • Synthesis and Characterization of Poly(Butylene Sebacate-Co-Terephthalate) Copolyesters with Pentaerythritol as Branching Agent
    Jang, Hyunho; Kwon, Sangwoo; Kim, Sun Jong; Kim, Young-Teck; Park, Su-il (MDPI, 2023-12-19)
    Poly(butylene sebacate-co-terephthalate) (PBSeT) copolyesters are prepared by melt polymerization via two-step transesterification and polycondensation using pentaerythritol (PE) as a branching agent. The effects of the incorporated PE on its chemical, thermal, mechanical, and degradation properties, along with the rheological properties of its melt, are investigated. The highest molecular weight and intrinsic viscosity along with the lowest melt flow index were achieved at a PE content of 0.2 mol%, with minimal reduction in the tensile strength and the highest tear strength. The addition of PE did not significantly influence the thermal behavior and stability of the PBSeT copolyesters; however, the elongation at break decreased with increasing PE content. The sample with 0.2 mol% PE exhibited a higher storage modulus and loss modulus as well as a lower loss angle tangent than the other samples, indicating improved melt elasticity. The incorporation of more than 0.2 mol% PE enhanced the enzymatic degradation of copolyesters. In summary, including within 0.2 mol%, PE effectively improved both the processability-related characteristics and degradation properties of PBSeT copolyesters, suggesting their potential suitability for use in agricultural and packaging materials.
  • Producing Structural Grade Hardwood Lumber as a Raw Material for Cross-Laminated Timber: Yield and Economic Analysis
    Adhikari, Sailesh; Bond, Brian H.; Quesada, Henry Jose (2024-02)
    The economic feasibility of producing structural-grade hardwood lumber (SGHL) that qualifies as a raw material for structurally rated cross-laminated timber (CLT) was examined. 126 yellow poplar logs from diameters 12 to 15 inches were selected and divided into test and control samples. A log yield study was then conducted of the yield and revenue generated when producing lumber graded with National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) rules, SGHL rules, and a mix of both rules (NHLA and SGHL-graded lumber). Producing mix-grade lumber added approximately 27% more revenue than producing NHLA-grade lumber on average if sawmills adopt a cant sawing method. Mix-grade lumber production resulted in 32% of the total volume produced as SGHL and the remaining 68% as NHLA lumber. As a result, 2 Common and lower-grade lumber board footage was reduced to only 29% in test samples and remained converted into SGHL compared to more than 85% of 2 Common and lower-grade lumber boards for control samples. 95% of the SGHL produced as mixed-graded lumber with NHLA-grade lumber met the specifications required to produce structural CLT, and the remaining 5% can be utilized to produce non-structural grade CLTs if they meet the minimum requirement of the materials for CLT production.
  • Adhesive Bonding Performance of Thermally Modified Yellow Poplar
    Masoumi, Abasali; Balma, Francisco Xavier Zambrano; Bond, Brian H. (2023-10-16)
    Thermal modification of wood changes its chemical, physical, and structural properties, which may affect adhesive bondline quality and bonding performance. This research compared the effect of thermal modification on the adhesive bonding performance of poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) wood. Samples were prepared from thermally modified and unmodified yellow poplar using one-component polyurethane (PUR) and polyvinyl acetate (PVA), as they are adhesives used in wood products. Microscopic properties of the bondlines were investigated to understand shear performance and durability. Adhesive line thickness, penetration, shear strength, and moisture durability were measured, and failure modes were recorded. Thermal modification negatively affected the wood and adhesive interaction by reducing penetration (31.2% in PUR and 29% in PVA), therefore creating a thicker adhesive line (70% in PUR and 2% in PVA) and consequently causing a significant reduction in the shear strength of both adhesive types (27% in PUR and 36% in PVA) compared with non-modified specimens. The PUR adhesive had higher shear strength than PVA by 2.7% in non-modified and 14% in thermally modified wood.
  • Editorial: In celebration of women in science: glycoscience
    Roman, Maren; Chandran, Preethi L.; Haurat, M. Florencia (Frontiers, 2023-05)
  • Sustainable and Secure Transport: Achieving Environmental Impact Reductions by Optimizing Pallet-Package Strength Interactions during Transport
    Kim, Saewhan; Horvath, Laszlo; Russell, Jennifer D.; Park, Jonghun (MDPI, 2023-08-22)
    Increasing quantities of products are being transported across widely distributed supply networks; the sustainability of the packaging used to transport these goods, or unit loads, presents an area of potential concern. The most common type of unit load in the U.S. is wooden pallets supporting various configurations of stacked corrugated boxes. Research into unit load cost optimization revealed that increasing the stiffness of a pallet’s top deck can significantly affect the strength of the assembled, stacked corrugated boxes and provides opportunities to reduce the board grade required for accompanying corrugated boxes. However, there remains a knowledge gap regarding the environmental implications of this type of unit load optimization method. To address this, we conducted a life cycle analysis (LCA) to investigate the environmental implications of optimizing a unit load using this method. The environmental impacts of paired (pallet and box) unit load design scenarios (n = 108) were investigated using varied wood species, pallet top deck thicknesses, corrugated boxes sizes, corrugated flutes, and board grades. Initial and optimized unit load scenarios ensured that the unit loads offered equivalent performance. LCA results indicate that optimizing the unit load can reduce environmental impacts by up to 23%, with benefits accruing across most impact categories primarily due to the reduction in corrugated material used. Ozone depletion, the exception, was mainly affected by the increase in the amount of required pallet materials. This study provides minimum required conditions as preliminary guidance for determining the usefulness of unit load specific analysis, and a sensitivity analysis confirmed these values remain unchanged even with different transportation distances. Through the unit load optimization method, this study demonstrates that an effective way to reduce the overall environmental impact and cost of transported unit loads involves increasing the stiffness of the top decks and reducing the corrugated board grade.
  • International Supply Chain Handling Practices and the Quality of Heat-treated, White Oak Veneer Logs
    Chen, Zhangjing; White, Marshall; Mack, Ron; Rider, Daniel; Reddy, Vijay; O'Neill, Susan (North Carolina State University Department of Wood & Paper Science, 2023-05)
    The most promising alternative to the methyl bromide fumigation of exported logs is steam-heating the log in a vacuum. Research has confirmed that steam heating to 56 degrees C for 30 minutes kills all viable propagules of oak wilt pathogen (Bretziella fagacearum) in the sapwood of oak logs. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this heattreatment method has any effect on the quality or value of white oak veneer logs shipped between the US and EU. Seventeen steam- and vacuum-treated and seventeen untreated control logs were shipped from Baltimore, Maryland to the Czech Republic, for processing into veneer, between December 2021 and February 2022. The treated and untreated logs were sawn into flitches, soaked in hot water vats, sliced, dried, and the veneer from each log was graded for quality. Each log was assigned a value based on the veneer quality and yield. The average value of treated log was 1,547 euro/m3, and the average value of the untreated logs was 1,539 euro/m3. The null hypothesis was statistically confirmed. Therefore, it is concluded that the 56 degrees C/30 min, sapwood heat treatment using vacuum and saturated steam had no adverse impact on the value of the white oak veneer logs.