Lab Canada

Planer mill upgrade to improve training, research

Prince George, BC – A $50,000 grant to the College of New Caledonia (CNC) from the BC government will be used to upgrade its planer mill and develop imaging technology that will yield more lumber in sawmill processing and capture more economic value from beetle-affected logs. In addition, the grant will allow the college to enter the field of terahertz research.

Terahertz technology uses the electromagnetic spectrum to detect internal cracks in a log that are invisible to the naked eye. By identifying where defects are located before the wood is planed or milled, we are able to avoid waste and produce more lumber.

The upgraded equipment will allow the college to partner in an applied research project with University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and Del-Tech Manufacturing. UNBC and Del-Tech are involved in research and development activities focused on terahertz imaging systems and their application in the forest industry, particularly to the recovery of beetle-wood.

Mountain pine beetle-attacked timber has a limited shelf life for use in dimension lumber. It becomes more difficult to process as it dries out and cracks, which limits the amount of useful lumber that can be produced. Terahertz imaging technology is being investigated for its potential to maximize beetle-wood’s economic value.

Terahertz frequencies are between infrared and microwave radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum, and are much safer and can be less expensive to generate than ionizing radiation such as X-rays.

UNBC and Del-Tech began the terahertz applied research project last April. Del-Tech is a primary manufacturer of biomass-fuelled systems that supply thermal energy for lumber kilns, material dryers, board presses, power generation, and plant heating systems. It also designs manufacturing machinery for the forest industry.