WoodWeek – 2 May 2018

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Greetings from your WoodWeek news team. Today, we take a slight departure from the usual news clip intros, because, as your editor I've decided to do some venting. You may be surprised at my target –-> all of us working in forestry.

Last week Productivity Commission chairman Murray Sherwin said major changes are needed if New Zealand wants to take its greenhouse gas emission targets seriously. His organisation's report made a significant media impact following its release. The literal deluge of comments from spokespeople for many key and potentially negatively affected industries, and the breadth and depth of news commentary and reactions reported daily since their report draft went public, has been extraordinary – and it is only just the draft report!

Among the reactions there are plenty of people ready to criticise the thought of more forests especially when it involves radiata pine. Thank goodness our sawmillers and export buyers love the stuff. Among those who are not so keen for more land locked into forests there are both enlightened and bigotted views. Some commentators even confuse the locking up of carbon in forest products thinking that only engineered wood products store carbon, not all of the other solid wood products. So, let's stop there for a minute.

Well ahead of this report, and almost single-handedly, we have our Minister Shane Jones, literally on a mission, like the Blues Brothers, to absolutely and definitely do the right thing for the Northland nephews, and our national carbon credit balance. He is gathering momentum, not moss, by just “getting on” with the task at hand of putting the ‘right tree in the right place’. Good on him for showing drive, initiative and good old-fashioned practical leadership.

Among the wider public there are many misconceptions about forestry, as the naysayers seem to forget its many contributions. Indeed, its ability to generate significant export earnings, contribute to the tax take and create a wide range of both direct and indirect employment across rural New Zealand are not widely understood outside of the families of people who work alongside us.

Perhaps many of us – who owe credit for our careers and a lifetime’s net material worth to the humble radiata pine tree and forest – have not been as great advocates for it as we could have been over the years. The pure advantages of sustainability and absolute positive economic, social and environmental contributions that trees make to our whole country are many. Especially as carbon sequestration becomes much more important to politics and business. For, indeed the worth of our entire planet depends on trees as its lungs. Quite simply “forestry is sustainability”, in its many shapes and forms, both in this country and globally.

It’s not just the comments from Murray Sherwin and his productivity team or Shane and his planting peers that brings to mind my thoughts that the collective “we” haven’t done enough here in New Zealand to push our own barrow. During March, I spent some weeks travelling in Canada and the US where I found, on the whole, that people in technical forestry and others I had the pleasure to meet in tall timber and engineered wood construction were far more passionate and outspoken advocates for the “forestry is sustainability” message than I recall myself or my fellow forestry colleagues getting vocal about at social gatherings in our communities outside the industry.

To finish the rant for now, and I do welcome your comments this week on the matter, I am willing to accept several possible reasons for my thoughts that we aren’t the advocates we could be for the humble tree; a) there simply aren't enough of us to get the message across; b) observation bias – I was listening better when in new places and groups; c) we are doing enough with NZWood and that’s why the Productivity Commission has seen Shane’s light.

Anyway, I don’t know what you think about whether we’ve done enough or need to do more, but on the back of seeing those proud North Americans, I am certainly prouder than ever, as a Kiwi, to say to people, “I’m in forestry and your darned right that it’s the most sustainable business on the planet!”

Enough of that for now - enjoy this week’s roundup of news and stories about the wood we all work with and love. We wouldn't want to be anywhere else than here spreading the sustainability message alongside you, our faithful clients and colleagues. Oh, and remember to register yourself and your team for the Woodflow Logistics conference series – we’ve got more cool new tech stuff to show you yet again!

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This week we have for you:

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Forestry rates with Productivity Commission

10 big ideas on 'decarbonisation' from the Productivity Commission

Last week the Productivity Commission released a draft report for consultation. The focus is on how New Zealand can meet the government's goal of achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. The report also looks at the goal of reducing emissions by 30 percent on 2005 levels by 2030, as required by the country's National Determined Commitment under the 2016 Paris global climate change accord.

Here are 10 of the commission's biggest ideas from that report:

1/ Boiled down, New Zealand can reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 from driving hard on two simple goals:
    a) Convert the transport fleet to electricity quickly, followed by industrial heat; and
    b) Plant trees at a rate not seen since the early 1990s, and keep on doing so for years to come;

2/ Don’t get too hung up on reducing methane emissions from cows and sheep. While it’s a powerfully warming gas, methane is also short-lived and as yet there are only limited fixes for the way animals digest food. Agricultural greenhouse gases have to come into the emissions trading scheme immediately, but the aim should be to stabilise rather than reduce methane and keep the focus on reducing nitrous oxide emissions from farming, where better technological answers exist;

3/ Stop making Fonterra take milk it doesn’t want to process. Current regulations require the dairy co-op to take any milk it’s offered. With industrial heat for food processing one of the biggest users of gas and coal in the manufacturing sector, the current rules are pushing up carbon emissions for activity that Fonterra doesn’t even want to undertake;

4/ Don’t make foreign investors in forestry process wood here. What New Zealand needs to meet its carbon targets is more trees, and fast. That requires more investors. Putting roadblocks in their way will only make the carbon targets harder to reach. This is actually already accepted. The recommendation was removed from the draft report yesterday ahead of its release this morning after advice from the Treasury on forestry treatment under new ownership rules;

5/ Introduce “freebates” for electric vehicles to encourage people to replace their petrol and diesel cars. Keep an eye on hydrogen as a fuel for trucking;

6/ Ban clunkers. In other words, impose stringent, new exhaust emissions standards for all cars coming into the country, especially used cars. New Zealand is behind most of the developed world by having no such standards and risks becoming a “dumping ground” for old cars as other countries increase their standards;

7/ Keep fossil fuels in the electricity system. Yes. Really. Even as the electricity system moves towards 100 percent renewable, there will still be a small place for gas (or coal, if we run out of gas) to meet demand when the hydro lakes are empty and the wind doesn’t blow. The alternative is much more expensive electricity;

8/ Don’t pick winners as electricity generation and storage technology improves and becomes more affordable. The commission expects solar power, batteries and highly localised renewable generation to grow fast, but would rather see that happen by ensuring electricity market regulation gives consumers control, rather than subsidising outcomes in an area where costs, technology and opportunity are evolving rapidly and unpredictably;

9/ Don’t make poor people subsidise emissions-reducing technologies that wealthier people can afford (see 8 above).

10/ Reorient the national science and innovation system to a driving focus on low emissions technologies. To reach carbon neutrality by 2050 may require carbon to cost $250 a tonne – more than 10 times what it does today. That will drive commercial opportunities as consumers and industry move to avoid that cost and there will be demand for the products that allow them to do so.

Source: Patrick Smellie, BusinessDesk

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Log exports pick up after Chinese New Year

New Zealand's export log market has picked up following a slowdown ahead of the Chinese New Year period. Traders are optimistic about the outlook for the year ahead, according to the latest AgriHQ forestry market report.

The country's log export volumes in February were 1.6 percent ahead of the three- month average and 18 percent up on the same time last year as weaker exports to India and South Korea were offset by strong exports to Japan and China, the report said. Lumber exports also picked up, with February export volumes up 25 percent on the same time last year, driven by strength in China and the US.

Overall, the log trade into China, New Zealand's largest log market, weakened in February with imports down 32 percent on the three-month average and 14 percent below the same time last year because of disruption due to Chinese New Year celebrations, AgriHQ said. A similar pattern occurred for lumber imports, down 18 percent on the same time last year and 34 percent below the three-month average.

Still, New Zealand's softwood log exports have picked back up following a slowing of the market prior to the Chinese New Year, AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his April report under the heading '2018 log exports off to a good start'.

"Import levels witnessed in February hold very little credence for coming months. It is forecast for log and lumber inputs to remain strong or to increase further on past years," Brick said. "If the past month is any indication then 2018 should be another good year for the export log trade. Any post-Chinese New Year jitters have essentially disappeared as the port-level log offtake has risen to the level required to keep the market sturdy."

Brick noted buyers in China are becoming more selective about their logs based on the fairly large volume of logs still on port, with the AgriHQ Log Price Survey showing lower value logs held at levels near to a month ago while better quality logs trended upwards.

He said higher shipping rates and a higher local currency were weighing on the export log market through March and early April, although he noted these appeared to be short-term issues and overall the export log market remains in a "healthy position".

"Each of the main export markets are still showing positive levels of interest which has log traders optimistic that the highs of the past 12 months or so can be repeated again throughout 2018."

Brick said competition with the export log market was still driving contract negotiations in New Zealand's domestic market and holding the market solid across the board.

"Mills hoping for a reduction in log prices look like they’ll be out of luck for at least the next few months," he said. "Domestic log demand remains solid, more so on pruned logs than unpruned, while overseas markets are continuing to absorb any product coming out of NZ with relative ease."

Forest products are New Zealand's third-largest commodity export group behind dairy and meat products.

Source: BusinessDesk

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Scion launches innovation hub plans

Scion launched its plans to build an innovation hub in the centre of its Rotorua campus
The crown research institute revealed the wood-rich design concepts at a function this week.

A $2.5 million grant from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s regional infrastructure fund helped get the multi-million dollar project underway.

Scion CEO Julian Elder says the innovation hub will become the focal point of Scion’s campus and is part of a broader campus redevelopment that will foster innovation in the forestry, manufacturing, energy and sustainable land-use sectors.

“We, and our predecessors, have a proud history of innovation on this site but to take us into the future, our aging site needs upgrading. This investment will give us flexible and fit-for-purpose facilities that reflect the world-class science we do here. “We are creating a unique and dynamic environment that will promote innovation, commercialisation and collaboration by bringing Scion staff and industry closer together. Engaging with the public is important too, and we will be opening up parts of the campus to our neighbours, local community and tourists,” said Dr Elder.

Kevin Winters, a Bay of Plenty Regional Council representative, says the project has the potential to provide a significant boost to not only the Rotorua economy, but that of the wider region, bringing employment, economic benefits and innovation that will spill over to national benefits.

“We’re very pleased to be able to contribute to getting the hub underway, through the Regional Infrastructure Fund, and look forward to seeing the development progress,” said Mr Winters.

Scion worked closely with Architects RTA Studio and Irving Smith during the design phase to ensure the building will be a showcase for engineered timber and sustainable building principles.

The innovation hub, to be accessed from Long Mile Road, will be the new entry point to Scion. The three-level building comprises an exhibition area, public café, main reception, meeting rooms, staff and tenant working spaces. It links to laboratories and testing facilities. Construction is expected to start before the end of this year, and it is due to be completed by December 2019.

The entire campus redevelopment programme started last year with a refit of Scion’s office block. In addition to the innovation hub, the programme includes upgrades of wood processing workshops and laboratories plus pilot-plant facilities. A landscape plan for the 112-hectare site is also included to create a more cohesive environment.

Costing an estimated $18 million, the redevelopment is the largest in many years and follows a laboratory upgrade in 2012.

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3D laser measurement a first for Australasia

A key focus for this year’s WoodFlow 2018 event running in June is log measurement, scaling and tracking. Tasmania’s largest private forestry management company, Forico, has for a couple of years now been evaluating log measurement systems best suited to their operations. As well as managing 100,000 ha of timber plantations the company also operates two woodchip mills in NE Tasmania at Bell Bay and NW Tasmania at Hampshire.

Over the last 12 months, the viability of installing a 3D laser measurement system to get the solid volume of bulk hardwood logs has been top of their mind. In addition to cost and operational improvements, the company’s aim has been to shift from log measurement in green metric tonnes to cubic metres to enable log drying across the estate to improve freight outcomes for woodchip and the log transport task.

Forico have opted for a 3D laser measurement system which has been supplied by a Chilean technology development company, Woodtech Measurement Systems. It has already been installed and is being used by mills in Europe, the US and in Latin America. In addition to highly precise measurements (more than one million measurements per vehicle load) the measurement system reduces operational costs. Fewer operators are involved, quicker measurements can be taken and truck turn-around time is able to be reduced. Measurements are also taken on moving trucks. With 100% of the loads being measured, no sampling or conversion factors are required.

The system was commissioned by Forico in late March and trials are still underway at the company’s NW operation. It’s the first time the Logmeter system has been deployed at a mill in Australia, New Zealand or South East Asia. Darren Herd, Strategic Resource and Logistics Manager with Forico will be outlining the company’s investigations into suitable log load measurement systems and results from their recent trials. Woodtech, the Chilean supplier of the laser measurement systems will also be involved in the WoodFlow 2018 June series.

In addition to log measurement systems, an array of new international and local technologies and innovative operating practices around vehicle fleet operations, planning and safety as they apply to the wood transport businesses are being covered in this two-yearly tech update. Companies at the forefront of these innovations like Scania from Hong Kong, the LOTS Group based in Sweden, Chile’s Forestal Mininco, JRP Solutions from Canada and NZ’s Zero Emission Vehicles will be presenting as part of the series. Local forestry companies also play a major part in this event with Forestry Corporation NSW, Forico, Nelson Forests, HQPlantations and OneFortyOne Plantations all sharing their experiences.

Woodflow 2018 runs on 20-21 June 2018 in Melbourne, Australia and again on 26-27 June 2018, Rotorua, New Zealand. It’s run every two years for Australasia’s forestry managers, harvesting and wood haulage contractors and transport planners. In addition to the two days of tech updates, conference delegates also this year have the opportunity of registering for two pre-conference workshops, one on cloud-based operations management and the other on transport planning. Both are free to Woodflow 2018 conference delegates and will run on the afternoon before the conference in Melbourne and in Rotorua.

Full details on WoodFlow 2018 series can be found on the event website, www.woodflow.events

Photo: Courtesy of Forico

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Industry leaders support charges laid

Forest industry associations are supporting penalties imposed in the District Court against Bay of Plenty forest owner Whitikau Holdings and two harvesting contractors. The companies pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Resource Management Act for damaging two stream beds near Opotiki in a logging operation which began in 2015.

Whitikau Holdings was fined $57,000 and the logging companies $4,000 and $3,000 respectively.

Forest Owners Association President Peter Weir is pointing to the judge’s comments that the action of the forest owner was ‘extremely reckless and bordered on deliberate’.

“From the facts as I understand them, this is not a case where a storm overwhelmed a logging site, but where the offenders just didn’t care about the clear rules on how to avoid damaging river courses, ignored abatement notices and produced a consequence which could take a decade to come right.”

“They got what they deserved. They were probably lucky to avoid jail.”

The Farm Forestry Association President Neil Cullen is echoing Peter Weir’s warning to errant harvesting operators.

“This court decision highlights that there are forest owners and contractors out there who are ignoring best practice guides and directions from councils in order to try to save money.”

“The New Zealand Farm Forestry Association is hopeful the penalties in this case, and the clear provisions of the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry, will force such operators to change their approach and take a more responsible attitude when they are harvesting,” Neil Cullen says.

Forest Industry Contractors Association CEO Prue Younger, says she is disappointed that some are putting the industry into disrepute.

“With the recent introduction of Contractor Certification and the new National Environmental Standard coming into play, the industry is clearly standing behind best practice,” Prue Younger says.

Peter Weir says the National Environmental Standard takes effect next week and it will raise the environment standard for all forest operations.

“The NES represents the industry’s commitment to a set of legislative rules designed to reduce the effect of forestry earthworks, harvesting and other activities on the environment, including an effective reduction of planting for harvest on the most unstable terrain in New Zealand, now Red Zoned”.

“Compliance with the NES won’t be a big stretch for larger companies with robust environmental systems, but it will require smaller players to set up to meet its requirements.”

“The NES won’t stop the cowboy operators who, through carelessness, ruin streams, wetlands and our industry reputation. But it will mean that councils have a consistent rule-set and a clear mandate to protect the environment. Parts of the NES will become a template for other industries,” Peter Weir says.

Source: Scoop

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Commission: More trees, fewer cows

Late last week the Productivity Commission released a draft report on how New Zealand should transition to a low-emissions economy.

New Zealand has had climate change policies in place for some time but these have not been effective in reducing domestic emissions. For businesses, households, investors and consumers to manage the risks and seize the opportunities of moving to a low-emissions future, change is needed.

“Our report shows that major changes will be needed”, says commission chair, Murray Sherwin, “Emerging technologies are likely to play a large role in facilitating those changes and creating new opportunities for New Zealand. Our inquiry shows that, if credible and stable climate policy can be established now, businesses, households and consumers will be better able to plan for change and manage the risks of moving to a low-emissions economy.”

The recommendations in the draft report are designed to promote these changes. They include:

    > a strong signal from the Government, and preferably from across the Parliament, about its long-term commitment to transitioning to a low-emissions economy;
    > establishing an institutional framework that supports policies for transition a broad-based and effective emissions pricing scheme that includes phasing in agriculture;
    > supporting regulation and policies, such as a “feebate” scheme for imported vehicles;
    > more resources focused on low-emissions research and development, especially for agriculture; and
    > mandatory financial disclosures about climate risk.

In essence, the strategy for New Zealand involves replacing fossil-fuels, where feasible, with clean electricity (eg, electric vehicles and lower grade process heat) together with substantial land use change, in favour of large scale new forestry plantation and significant growth in horticulture. This is the efficient strategy for New Zealand with currently available technology.

Longer term, as new technologies emerge in response to higher emissions costs, there will be more options available to ease the path to a net-zero emissions future. These new options will be particularly important since, while increased forestry buys us time, it is not a permanent solution for New Zealand.

Murray also notes that “While the challenges of achieving a low-emissions economy are large, the scale of change involved in the transition is comparable to transitions that have occurred before in New Zealand, and within the scale of transitions faced in other developed countries.

New Zealand can reach its low emissions targets if it has the right institutions and policy settings in place, and the journey is embarked upon without delay.”

The Low-emissions economy draft report makes 140 findings, 50 recommendations and asks 11 questions. We're excited to release it today for for public and stakeholder review. View the draft report and supporting documentation here.

The Commission would like to hear your opinion on our findings and recommendations. Submissions on the draft report are open until Friday 8 June 2018. Have your say, make a submission here to contribute to the next stage of the inquiry. The final report which will be presented to the Government in the second half of 2018.

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New research hub in Mt Gambier

Mt Gambier hub flags opportunity for industry input - The new National Institute of Forest Products Innovation has kicked into gear in South Australia, with an inaugural meeting of its industry-driven advisory committee electing Tammy Auld as Chair and planning a workshop to discuss the research priorities and strategy with all interested industry professionals on May 10.

The Institute has been established to investigate innovation in areas such as forest management, timber processing, wood fibre recovery, advanced manufacturing and the bioeconomy. It will support the forest industry transition into a smarter, higher value focused industry, one that will boost opportunities for jobs and growth in the forest and forest products sector.

Tammy Auld said the Institute hub would strengthen ties between research and the industry's strategic needs.

"South Australia not only has a long history in forestry, but a bright and innovative future with the potential for a range of new bio-materials and other opportunities to value-add," she said.

"Our focus will very much be on real world outcomes that are meaningful to industry, with priorities determined by industry."

Ms Auld, Woodflow Manager at Timberlands Pacific, is joined on the committee by: Glen Rivers of OneFortyOne Plantations; Phillip Dohnt of LV Dohnt & Co; David Oliver of Timberlink; industry consultant Charlma Phillips; as well as Prof Christopher Saint of the University of South Australia who has been appointed as a non-voting observer to the Committee.

The Institute’s Mount Gambier hub is also expecting to utilise and draw upon many of the resources made available through the University of South Australia's Mount Gambier campus, which is also home to a separate initiative, Forestry at Mount Gambier Hub or “ForMT”, a collaboration with ForestrySA and Primary Industries and Regions SA.

IFPI’s South Australian hub has received a $4 million funding commitment from the Australian and South Australian Governments, and it is anticipated it will also attract industry support.

The Institution also has a further hub in Launceston, Tasmania.

Anyone who is interested in attending the regional briefing session can contact [email protected].

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Strong demand for driver trainee graduates

One of the most popular learning tools on the EIT campus at the moment is the institute’s new logging truck, which is enabling students to get real-time experience in the forests and on difficult forestry roads.

Commercial Road Transport graduates are getting snapped up as soon as they get their Class 5 licence to operate a truck and trailer unit like the one that will soon be sporting full EIT colours.

Having the truck means students can learn best practices for the forestry industry, says tutor Verdun Rodgers.

In the past they learned with whatever truck EIT could hire, which was usually a tipper, he said.

While these were used in forestry operations, having the logging truck enabled them to get hands-on experience of loading, RT (two-way radio), using scales to determine their exact load and CTI (central tyre inflation). The latter enables them to adjust tyre pressure to suit terrain.

“The truck enables them to do real work and get real life experience,” says Mr Rodgers.

The first 20-week intake of students was fully subscribed, with a waiting list forming for the next intake.

“Before they have even finished I have employers contacting me seeking good drivers,” said Mr Rodgers.

“As soon as they get their Class 5 licence, they are snapped up.”

More >>

Source: Gisborne Herald

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Remembrance tree planting plans

Last week Forestry Minister Shane Jones launched Matariki Tu Rakau, a remembrance tree planting programme in recognition of the men and women who have served in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

Part of a series of initiatives to mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War, this will see communities across the country plant up to 350,000 trees during Matariki this year to recognise our armed forces personnel.

“Just under 30,000 men and women have died in action since the beginning of the First World War,” Shane Jones said.

“Planting of the trees will occur over the month of Matariki, and will be carried out on various types of land, such as Marae, public parks, and places of remembrance.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries and Ministry of Culture and Heritage will work with Local Government New Zealand, the Returned Services Association, and iwi to identify specific plots of land suitable for planting and prepare appropriate signage.

“This is another initiative in the One Billion Trees planting programme and will mostly be native trees. We will work with nurseries across the country to source the trees and the initiative will focus on encouraging public participation in planting.

“We want to see families and the wider community getting involved in recognition to the NZDF personnel who have proudly served their country. It would also potentially provide an opportunity for communities to recognise special groups such as the Maori Battalion,” Shane Jones said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries will partner with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Defence, New Zealand Defence Force, Te Puni Kokiri, iwi and the Returned Services Association and is in discussions with Local Government New Zealand to deliver the initiative.

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Wood and concrete strengthens bridges

Researchers at Purdue have been studying if concrete is stronger by infusing it with wood crystals. The news is good so they are moving from the laboratory to the real world with a bridge that will to be built in California later in 2018.

The researchers have been working with cellulose nanocrystals, byproducts generated by the paper, bioenergy, agriculture and pulp industries, to find the best mixture to strengthen concrete, the most common man-made material in the world.

“Simply getting out there where people can actually drive on it, I think, is a huge step because you can't just say it's a lab curiosity at that point. It has real-world implications,” said Jeffrey Youngblood, a Purdue professor of materials engineering.

Strengthening concrete could have other implications, such as making items made with concrete thinner and lighter while retaining the same strength with a potential side benefit of decreasing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Cement plants account for an estimated 8 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, a main cause of climate change.

The catalyst for this potentially transformative change is a cellulose nanocrystal about 100 nanometers long and 5 nanometers wide, too small to be seen using an ordinary microscope. It can be seen only using an electron microscope. For perspective, a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers wide. Yet cellulose is the most common polymer in the world because it can be obtained from wood products, plants, bacteria and algae.

The cellulose nanocrystals make the concrete stronger through a chemical reaction that increases the hydration of the cement particles, making the concrete stronger, the researchers say. “The strength of concrete scales with the degree of hydration. So the more hydrated it is, the stronger it is,” Youngblood said. “So you’d think if you add more water it would be stronger. The problem is, water adds pores that make it weaker. But cellulose nanocrystals enhance hydration with less water, making the concrete stronger.”

Pablo Zavattieri, a professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, said the cellulose nanocrystals provide an avenue for the water to go where it is needed. Not all cement particles are hydrated when concrete is mixed, which hampers the strength and durability of the concrete.

“The good thing about cellulose nanocrystals is it kind of creates a rail for the water to go into a particle, Zavattieri said.

More >>

Source: Purdue University News

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Primary Sector Council announced

A group of visionary agribusiness leaders is set to help our primary sector capture more value from its work, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor says.

Mr O’Connor today announced the membership of the Primary Sector Council, which will provide independent strategic advice to the Government on issues confronting the primary industries – with an immediate focus on developing a sector-wide vision.

“This group of 15 innovative leaders from across the sector will provide fresh thinking at a time when New Zealand’s primary sector is facing unprecedented levels of change.

“Does that vision coalesce around ideas of sustainability, grower to plate storytelling, pasture-fed protein, smarter use of water and appealing to consumers who are prepared to pay more for products that align with their personal values?

“I do not have all the answers myself, which is why I am excited about the work the council will do.

“The council will be chaired by Lain Jager, former Chief Executive of Zespri Group.

“Lain brings solid experience in leadership, value-adding innovation and stakeholder engagement, which are all critical elements of the work I expect the council to deliver. “The council will have its first meeting in late May. Once it has developed a sector- wide vision it will work with each sector to develop individual strategic plans.

“These plans will include elements such as sustainable development, future value creation, technological opportunities and how a focused and thriving primary sector can reinvigorate rural communities.

“We’ve heard a lot recently about alternative proteins and the potential impact on our meat and dairy sectors. We also know some change will be required on environmental sustainability and a shift away from a commodity and volume focus. This move will give the primary sector its social licence to reap the opportunities of changing consumer trends.

“Kiwi growers and farmers have an immense collective knowledge and energy; they know sitting still is not an option and are constantly looking at ways to improve their operations. The Primary Sector Council will help harness that expertise.

“The Young Horticulturist of the Year and the Young Farmer of the Year will also be invited to attend sessions as a development opportunity,” says Damien O’Connor.

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... and finally ... perspectives

A group of junior-level executives were participating in a management training program. The seminar leader pounded home his point about the need to make decisions and take action on these decisions.

"For instance," he said, "if you had five frogs on a log and three of them decided to jump, how many frogs would you have left on the log?"

The answers from the group were unanimous: "Two."

"Wrong," replied the speaker, "there would still be five because there is a difference between deciding to jump and jumping."


Even though the metric system is in wide use all over the world, we can see why Americans have not adopted it:

A miss is as good as 1.6 kilometers.
Put your best .3 of a meter forward.
Spare the 5.03 meters and spoil the child.
Twenty-eight grams of prevention is worth 453 grams of cure.
Give a man 2.5 centimeters and he'll take 1.6 kilometers.
Peter Piper picked 8.8 liters of pickled peppers.

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Buy and Sell

Energy generation on a GRAND SCALE

Ok this is not a wood story - but it's about energy and that too is important to most of us to get through our typical day.

Building The World's Largest Solar Project - Saudi Arabia wants to pour $200 billion into solar to build the world's largest solar project.

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund and SoftBank Group Corp. of Japan jointly announced plans to build a solar project that is staggering in size – 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. That would be about 100 times larger than some of the largest projects in the world right now. "It's by far the biggest solar project ever," Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank said at a news conference Tuesdayin New York after signing a nonbinding agreement with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

The project would begin with a $5 billion investment, initiated this year, which would translate into about 7.2 GW, slated to come online in 2019.

The logic of massive and aggressive development of solar in Saudi Arabia is obvious. Sunshine is not a scarce resource. The country burns oil for about a third of its electricity, a costly way of generating power both environmentally and in terms of lost oil exports. SoftBank's Son said the 200 GW of solar would cut electricity costs by $40 billion while creating some 100,000 jobs.

The scale of the construction would alone help develop a domestic solar manufacturing industry in Saudi Arabia, SoftBank's Son said. The project will eventually integrate energy storage, although not right away.

Moreover, the project would be a cornerstone of MbS' long-term economic strategy, with clear spin off benefits in terms of economic diversification, employment, and a strategy for a post-oil economy.

The project is ambitious, to say the least, but raises a lot of questions. First, where will the money come from? The Wall Street Journal reports that much of the project will be debt-financed. SoftBank and the Saudi sovereign wealth fund announced a $100 billion technology fund in 2017, the Saudi-SoftBank Vision Fund. The Vision Fund will reportedly provide the first $1 billion.

Beyond that, the financing mechanism was left vague. SoftBank's chief said electricity sales would generate the revenue needed for further expansion. "The project will fund its own expansion," Son said. "New investment comes from the profit of the earlier project we don't need to secure total $200 billion in one day. It will be step by step."

One possibility would be using the proceeds from the Saudi Aramco IPO, which Saudi officials have repeatedly boasted would raise around $100 billion, although independent analysts question that figure. Moreover, the potential of the IPO would be constrained if Aramco opted for a domestic-only listing rather than a public offering in London, New York or Hong Kong.

Another question: What makes this project any different from the other announcements in the past, promising massive investments in solar that failed to materialize? A half decade ago Saudi Arabia announced plans to build 24 GW of solar by 2020, and 54 GW by 2032. The first projects only began to inch forward in 2017, according to Bloomberg, with bids received on a relatively paltry 300 megawatts of solar.

The lofty promises from Saudi Arabia in the past, many of which stayed on the drawing board, have apparently not humbled the Crown Prince. "It's a huge step in human history," bin Salman said. "It's bold, risky and we hope we succeed doing that."

Yet another uncertainty is what Saudi Arabia wants to do with 200 GW of power when its total electricity capacity only amounted to 77 GW in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The size is extraordinary, and is about triple the size of the total capacity that is either online, under construction, or being developed in all of the U.S. right now.

The solar announcement also begs the question of what Saudi Arabia plans on doing with its plans to spend $80 billion to build around 16 nuclear reactors over the next 25 years? It seems unlikely that all of these investments will go forward. It should be noted that the solar agreement between the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and Japan's SoftBank is a nonbinding agreement with little to guarantee that it moves forward.

Nonbinding agreements don't necessarily mean much without evidence that there will be a serious effort to follow through. We will just have to wait and see.

See the original article

By Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

That's all for this week's wood news.

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John Stulen
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