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Through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, and in conjunction with The Hardwood Manufacturers Association, Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc., and the National Hardwood Lumber Association, researchers from Virginia Tech continue to analyze the viability of Yellow Poplar in the manufacture of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels.

Virginia Tech professors and researchers, under the direction of Dr. Henry Quesada and Dr. Brian Bond, are working to learn if Poplar CLT is feasible in appearance and structural applications. Preliminary results of tests conducted in early 2020 indicate that 1COM Poplar can be used for appearance and 2COM Poplar could be used for structural materials. Additionally:

  • In November 2020, approximately 10,000 board feet of 2COM and 3COM kiln dried Yellow Poplar was delivered to CLT manufacturer SmartLam, Dothan, Ala., to build and test cross-laminated timber panels. (The company is also testing a variety of glues, volumes of pressure and amount of time needed to press the panels.)
  • When the tests are complete, SmartLam will build as many panels as possible, detail the manufacturing process and performance test the products to International Building Code requirements.

To date, the American National Standards Association approved ANSI/APA PRG 320-2012 Standard for Performance-Rated (softwood) Cross-Laminated Timber and it has been included in the International Building Code.

This project will take the necessary steps required for hardwood Poplar CLT to be included in PRG 320 in 2021. This inclusion could lead to a significant amount of low-grade Poplar lumber being used in this expanding product sector.

For more, visit the Virginia Tech Center for Forest Products Business.

The New River Train Observation Tower, Radford, Virginia.


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American Hardwood Information Center
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