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Nanoforestry--The Next Dangerous Stage of Industrial Forestry

I recently met a traveller in the airport lounge in
Frankfurt who worked in the forestry industry. We
started talking, and he seemed interested in new
technologies. In the end, I offered to write a column
on nanoforestry for him. I must say I was surprised at
the literature that already exists in this area and
how little one hears about it. Whenever I mention the
term I receive funny remarks. However a lot is going
on.

According to the Nanotechnology for the Forest
Products Industry ˜ Vision and Technology Roadmap,
"potential uses for nanotechnology include developing
intelligent wood -- and paperbased products with an
array of nanosensors built in to measure forces,
loads, moisture levels, temperature, pressure,
chemical emissions, attack by wood decaying fungi, et
cetera. Building functionality onto lignocellulosic
surfaces at the nanoscale could open new opportunities
for such things as pharmaceutical products,
self-sterilizing surfaces, and electronic
lignocellulosic devices. Use of nanodimensional
building blocks will enable the assembly of functional
materials and substrates with substantially higher
strength properties, which will allow the production
of lighter-weight products from less material and with
less energy requirements. Significant improvements in
surface properties and functionality will be possible,
making existing products much more effective and
enabling the development of many more new products.
Nanotechnology can be used to improve processing of
woodbased materials into a myriad of paper and wood
products by improving water removal and eliminating
rewetting; reducing energy usage in drying; and
tagging fibers, flakes, and much research will be
needed to move forward in this arena."