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February 3, 2016

UMaine tests Maine trees used to make 'plywood on steroids'

Scientists and engineers at the University of Maine are evaluating the strength, thermal and moisture properties of Maine trees when used to make cross-laminated timber, a kind of lumber used to build homes in Canada and Europe, The Times Record reported.

On its website, UMaine terms the material "plywood on steroids." Cross-laminated timber, made from solid-sawn and composite lumber from trees that grow in Maine and the northeastern United States, is a timber construction product developed as an alternative to stone and concrete in the 1990s in Austria. It is used to build homes and mid-rise commercial buildings in Europe and Canada, UMaine says.

Since CLT was recently incorporated in the International Building Code, it can be used in building construction in the U.S., providing it meets manufacturing standards.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded UMaine $300,000 to evaluate spruce, pine and fir that comes from Pleasant River Lumber in Dover-Foxcroft.

It's expected CLT could open new value-added markets for Maine wood species, adding to Maine's forest products industry, which is a major sector in the state's economy with an economic impact pegged at $8 billion.

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