Who We Are:
The Sustainable Engineered Materials Institute (SEMI) involves the cooperative
efforts of faculty, staff, and students from several departments who have a shared
interest in promoting the wise management of timber resources to ensure an economic
and environmentally sustainable supply of renewable resources to match future demand
for building construction materials and allied products.
The objectives of SEMI are:
The focus of SEMI is on research, although the Institute participates in the
instructional and outreach missions of the University. Research efforts are directed
in several areas, including the materials science of wood in relation to the processing
and performance of wood-based composite products, wood property relationships with
silvicultural practices, engineering design of composite materials and the structures
made from them, and computer simulation modeling of tree growth and yield,
composite design, composite manufacturing, and composite performance. The long-term
goal of SEMI is to design composite products from the wood of trees grown on intensively
managed forest plantations.
SEMI is part of the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech. Its research
facilities are located in Cheatham Hall, the Thomas M. Brooks Forest Products Center,
and Reynolds Homestead Forest Resources Center. The Brooks Center has, in addition
to the Wood-Based Composites Laboratory, facilities that include a wood engineering
lab, recycling lab, and a pallet and container research laboratory. Facilities in
Cheatham Hall include the quantitative wood anatomy laboratory, thermal analysis
laboratory, chemistry lab, and wood adhesives lab. The Reynolds Homestead Forest
Resources Research Center (FRRC) in Critz, VA was created in 1969 to study forest
biology including genetics, physiology and soils. Specific projects include harvesting
to increase forest health and productivity, site preparation, forest fertilization,
loblolly pine physiology and forest herbicide testing.
For more information about SEMI please call (540) 231-7092
Established in July 2002, SEMI is a college-level center within the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech.
It involves the cooperative efforts of faculty from the
Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, and the
Department of Forestry. SEMI cooperates with the
Wood-Based Composite Center, and the Department of Forestry's
Loblolly Pine Growth and Yield Research Cooperative and
Forest Nutrition Cooperative. The Director of
SEMI is charged with the responsibility of coordinating the research agenda and business
activities of the center. The Director reports to the Stakeholders Committee and to the
Dean of the College of Natural Resources.
Funding for SEMI comes from a USDA Special Grant titled “Sustainable Engineered Materials From Renewable Resources”, the Wood-Based Composites Center, and extramural research grants and contracts. The USDA Special Grant was established in FY2002 under the strong support and vision of the Virginia Congressional Delegation, particularly Senators John Warner and George Allen, and Congressmen Virgil Goode, Bob Goodlatte, and Rick Boucher.
The key to the success of SEMI is an integrated connection between forest management practices and materials science. This connection must be a long-term commitment toward continued development of innovative wood-based composite products and efficient processing technology. This can be achieved without a dependence on old-growth forests and without jeopardizing wildlife habitat.
Research created through the SEMI is linking composite producers with forest industry. Through this linkage, we are bridging the gap created by the disassociation of forest land owners with producers of wood products. We are providing a multi-disciplinary approach without which significant advances in the creation of biobased products and improvements to integrated forest management are not possible. There are few players in the high-stakes science of woody plant improvement and we are providing the foundation for joining this select group. The essence of SEMI is that we are providing an unbroken link from the molecule to the market.