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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Research Unit: Building and Fire Sciences

Moisture and Heat transfer Primary Goals: Wood fails as a building material because it gets wet. Wood exhibits swelling upon moisture uptake and shrinkage upon drying, and these cyclical moisture changes lead to internal stresses and can eventually form splits and checks within the wood. When there is an abundance of moisture in the wood, it is susceptible to microbial growth, fungal decay, corrosion of embedded metals, and chemical depolymerization from certain ions and free radicals.

As a building material, wood is less desirable than steel or concrete because it is combustible. When new engineered wood products are developed, their fire performance needs to be understood so they can be properly implemented in the building codes. Research and code development activities on the fire performance of wood, engineered wood, and wood structures directly affects life safety of US citizens.

This research work unit is focused on mitigating the potential effects of fire and moisture on wood structures by understanding how fire and moisture act on wood buildings and wood building components. The unit achieves this through several multidisciplinary, multiscalar, research avenues and also assists with developing building codes. The research results in more resilient, more sustainable wood structures. Fundamental research by the group may result in entirely new wood products that have the potential to increase the market for wood and/or small diameter wood which would increase the health of the Nation’s National Forest System.