Over the past few years, the lumber industry has been confronted with chip production above and beyond market demand, resulting in large surpluses in various regions of Quebec and Ontario. This situation may well get worse in the coming years, as pulp and paper mills—which used to be large consumers of this resource—buy less and less chips or if there is a substantial increase in production. At the same time, the wood panel manufacturing industry is facing challenges relating to the constant supply of raw materials, and particularly with regard to the quantity and quality of the materials.

To meet the needs of panel manufacturers that want to diversify their sources of supply as well as to respond to the necessity of finding new markets for sawmill residues, FPInnovations has launched a new project aimed at evaluating innovative fragmentation technologies adapted to sawmills that convert small diameter logs for the production of by-products to be used in manufacturing structural and non-structural panels. The project is called the SM2 initiative.

Within this project, FPInnovations’ Engineered Wood Products Manufacturing team shipped sawmill residues in the form of slab wood, trim ends and cull logs from various species and in a variety of shapes and diameters to a European company already using the fragmentation technology. FPInnovations will evaluate the possibility of fragmenting these logs in order to use them to make wood wafers of desired dimensions for panel board mills.

Using this new approach, wood wafers produced in sawmills can be delivered to panel manufacturers and used directly as raw materials, without any subsequent processing. In addition to offering new opportunities, this approach will help improve the mechanical and physical properties of the panels, while cutting the production costs, through a decrease in the density of the panels and a reduction in the amount of resin-based binder required, FPInnovations believes.

This development project aims to offer companies producing wood chips a way of increasing revenue from non-traditional markets.