David Nicholls

David Nicholls
United States Department of Agriculture | USDA · Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

PhD

About

54
Publications
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382
Citations

Publications

Publications (54)
Article
Full-text available
Many socioeconomic constraints exist for biomass removals from federal lands in the western U.S. We examine several issues of importance, including biomass supply chains and harvesting costs, innovative new uses for bioenergy products, and the policy framework in place to provide incentives for biomass use. Western states vary greatly in the extent...
Article
Full-text available
Much of the North American wood products industry was severely impacted by the recession of 2008–2009. In addition, many sectors within this industry face intense global competition. Against this backdrop, we examine economic opportunities for hardwood manufacturers to achieve greater competitive advantage via product customization, through a liter...
Article
Full-text available
Forest biomass represents 25–30 % of the annual biomass available in the USA for conversion into bio-based fuels, bio-based chemicals, and bioproducts in general. The USDA Forest Service Research and Development (R&D) has been focused on producing products from forest biomass since its inception in 1905, with direct combustion, solid sawn lumber, p...
Article
Over the past decade, wood-energy use in Alaska has grown dramatically. Since 2000, several dozen new wood-energy installations have been established, with numerous others in the design or construction phase. This case study report compares two wood-pellet heating systems in Juneau, Alaska. The Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority, a native hou...
Article
There is a substantial body of research from the past half-century addressing hardwood utilization and markets in North America. This synthesis is the first to our knowledge to consider two major (and related) aspects of this research concurrently: low-grade hardwood utilization and marketing of character-marked wood features. We first consider low...
Article
Federal agencies are mandated to measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The General Services Administration (GSA) Carbon Footprint Tool (CFT) is an online tool built to utilize measured GHG inventories to help Forest Service units streamline reporting and make informed decisions about operational efficiency. In fiscal year 2013...
Article
The Sustainability Science Team (SST) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Sustainable Operations Initiative is a 18-member virtual research and development team, located across five regions and four research stations of the USDA Forest Service. The team provides research, publication, systems analysis, and decision support t...
Article
We reviewed energy efficiency measures in facilities across the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, examining opportunities and obstacles, and identifying factors of project success. The adoption of energy efficiency measures at Forest Service sites was seen to be most likely when decision control was local to the site and when budget ti...
Article
This report summarizes practical energy management strategies that could help communities in southeast Alaska move closer to energy independence while utilizing local resources more effectively. Our analysis focuses primarily on Sitka, Alaska, yet could be relevant to other communities having similar energy structures that rely primarily on hydroel...
Article
The U.S. Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), located in Madison, Wisconsin, celebrated its centennial in 2010, and one of the lab's signature research areas during this century of achievement has been lignocellulosic transportation fuels. Many of these research advances have occurred either during wartime emergencies or times of econom...
Article
Cofiring of biomass and coal at electrical generation facilities is gaining in importance as a means of reducing fossil fuel consumption, and more than 40 facilities in the United States have conducted test burns. Given the large size of many coal plants, cofiring at even low rates has the potential to utilize relatively large volumes of biomass. T...
Article
Red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) lumber is widely used to produce furniture and other secondary wood products. Tongue and groove (T&G) paneling is a product with potential niche applications and requires relatively small investments in processing equipment. As such, it represents potential business opportunities for smaller wood products manufacturers...
Article
Full-text available
Hardwood panels made from edge-glued material are a versatile product that could be within the reach of many smaller wood products firms. However, products would need to be accepted throughout the supply chain for this opportunity to be achieved. This study evaluated preferences of consumers and manufacturers towards edge-glued panels from Alaskan...
Article
We examine the use of woody residues, primarily from forest harvesting or wood products manufacturing operations (and to a limited degree from urban wood wastes), as a feedstock for direct-combustion bioenergy systems for electrical or thermal power applications. We examine opportunities for utilizing biomass for energy at several different scales,...
Article
The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the principle of multiple use management of the Nation's forest resources for sustained yields of wood, water, forage, wildlife, and recreation. Through forestry research, cooperation with the States and private forest owners, and management of the National Forests and Nationa...
Article
This study considered three aspects of residential wood energy use in Alaska: current conditions and fuel consumption, knowledge and attitudes, and future use and conditions. We found that heating oil was the primary fuel for home heating in southeast and interior Alaska, whereas natural gas was used most often in south-central Alaska (Anchorage)....
Article
In Alaska, red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) are both lesser-known hardwoods grown, harvested, and manufactured into appearance products, with potential for increased utilization. The production of edgeglued panels from red alder and paper birch offers one expansion opportunity for wood products producers. For...
Article
Full-text available
In recent decades, red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) has become an important Pacific Northwest hardwood in appearance-grade lumber markets, such as exports, furniture, and cabinets. However, red alder generally is a short-lived pioneer species, and small logs can result in proportionally large volumes of lower grade lumber containing numerous visual de...
Article
Biomass resources in Alaska are extensive and diverse, comprising millions of acres of standing small-diameter trees, diseased or dead trees, and trees having low-grade timber. Limited amounts of logging and mill residues, urban wood residues, and waste products are also available. Recent wildfires in interior Alaska have left substantial volumes o...
Article
This synthesis examines international opportunities for utilizing biomass for energy at several different scales, with an emphasis on larger scale electrical power generation at stand-alone facilities as well as smaller scale thermal heating applications such as those at governmental, educational, or other institutional facilities. It identifies ba...
Article
Full-text available
Log moisture content has an important impact on many aspects of log home construction, including log processing, transportation costs, and dimensional stability in use. Air-drying times for house logs from freshly harvested trees can depend on numerous factors including initial moisture content, log diameter, bark condition, and environmental condi...
Article
The primary objectives of the study were to characterize the critical properties of wood flour produced using highly deteriorated beetle-killed spruce for wood-plastic composite (WPC) production and evaluate important mechanical and physical properties of WPC extruded using an industry standard formulation. Chemical composition analysis indicated n...
Article
The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the principle of multiple use management of the Nation's forest resources for sustained yields of wood, water, forage, wildlife, and recreation. Through forestry research, cooperation with the States and private forest owners, and management of the National Forests and Nationa...
Article
Birch lumber is often characterized by a high degree of knots, bark pockets, heartwood, and other features which force sawmill owners to decide whether to edge and trim boards to produce standard grade lumber vs. proprietary grade character-marked lumber. In addition, the edging strategies used with irregularly shaped flitches can greatly influence...
Article
Extensive biomass resources exist throughout the Western United States, and estimates vary depending on land ownership, size distribution of biomass, accessibility of biomass, and frequency of harvesting or thinning operations. The Western Governor's Association has adopted a resolution to examine the feasibility of developing 30 gigawatts of clean...
Article
Full-text available
This technical note describes consumer preferences within selected demographic categories in two major Pacific Northwest markets for six domestic wood species. These woods were considered for construction of four furniture pieces. Chi-square tests were performed to determine species preferences based on gender, age, and income. Age and income were...
Article
The kitchen cabinet industry has shown significant growth recently, with expanding residential markets, new cabinet styles, and larger kitchens. This industry represents an opportunity for small Alaska wood producers to create high-value secondary products. In response to recent trends in kitchen cabinet manufacturing and the need to identify oppor...
Article
Full-text available
A better understanding of consumer reaction and preferences for red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) secondary products will help Alaska producers in entering new markets. In this study, red alder kitchen cabinets were commercially stained to six different levels and displayed at home shows in Portland, Oregon, and Anchorage, Alaska. The stains simulated...
Article
Changing consumer tastes and species availability are influencing the design and manufacture of hardwood products. In addition, the globalization of wood product markets is exposing U.S. consumers to new species. This research evaluates consumer preferences for six domestic wood species—three from the eastern United States and three from the wester...
Article
A survey determined that installed dry kiln capacity in Alaska more than doubled to an estimated 220 thousand board feet (mbf) within 4 years (2000-2004). This increased ability to produce dry lumber and value-added products resulted from industry efforts to obtain federal funding to support a dry kiln grant program. This report reviews grantees' p...
Article
The purpose of this research was to evaluate selected lumber attributes, species preferences, and lumber use properties among secondary wood manufacturers in the United States. Our sample included producers of kitchencabinets, furniture, doors, windows, and molded products who attended regional and national wood manufacturing events. More than 51%...
Article
Cofiring wood and coal at Fairbanks, Alaska, area electrical generation facili- ties represents an opportunity to use woody biomass from clearings within the borough's wildland-urban interface and from other sources, such as sawmill residues and woody material intended for landfills. Potential benefits of cofiring include air quality improvements,...
Article
Full-text available
New equipment, technology, and marketing efforts have allowed Alaska's wood products producers to consider opportunities previously unavailable to them. Until recently, the primary product produced by Alaska firms was rough, unseasoned lumber sold primarily within local markets. Given the purchase and installation of new drying and planing equipmen...
Article
Consumers choose products based on various tangible and intangible attributes. Previous research has shown that there is a difference between appearance-based and word-based evaluations ofwood species. However, little research has been done on how this difference affects consumer choice. This study examined how the presence or absence of a species...
Article
The Linking Healthy Forests and Communities conference brought together a diverse group representing government agencies, traditional forest users, landholders, scientists, and small enterprises and other businesses related to nontimber forest products. The purpose was to exchange information, encourage cooperation, and raise awareness of environme...
Article
Survey data from home shows in Seattle, Washington and Anchorage, Alaska were used to determine the sources of product information used by consumers when buying kitchen cabinets. Results show that in-store sales staffare the most common source of product information, and that consumers' favorite wood species, age, and gender can influence the sourc...
Article
Full-text available
Contemporary wood utilization research needs in the Western United States are examined in this problem analysis. Key focal areas include: A. Changes in forest management actions and policies affect forest conditions and people, which in turn affect wood quality and wood utilization opportunities. B. Effects of natural disturbances (e.g., wildfire,...
Article
Craft and gift producers in Alaska who use birch as a primary species were surveyed via mail, telephone calls, and site visits. Forty-two usable mail surveys were obtained for a response rate of 3 8.5 percent. Firms were in business an average of 13 years and utilized an average of 4,778 board feet of birch per year to produce a variety of craft it...
Article
In Alaska, red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) is an abundant but commercially underutilized species desptte having properties suitable for higher value products, including furniture and cabinetry. However, it laces the name recognition of mote traditional hardwoods. Our research measured the effect of this lack of fa- miliarity on consumer preferences f...
Article
The composting of fish and wood wastes in Alaska, who has an abundance of natural resources, is discussed. Organic byproducts from these wastes present value-added opportunities, and transforming them from wastes to resources can create important multiplier effects. Such effects can improve the environment and sustain the small rural communities up...
Article
Full-text available
Alaska birch lumber has a higher occurrence of defects (knots, bark pockets, flecks, spalting, etc.) when compared to competing hardwoods. These defects are a disadvan- tage when birch lumber is graded under standard National Hardwood Lumber Associa- tion (NHLA) grading rules. This paper examines whether defects and other character markings found i...
Article
Dichotomous choice contingent valuation survey techniques were used to estimate mean willingness to pay (WTP) a price premium for made-in-Alaska secondary wood products. Respondents were asked to compare two superficially identical end tables, one made in China and one made in Alaska. The surveys were administered at home shows in Anchorage, Fairba...
Article
Full-text available
Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) can be characterized by localized regions of high-moisture-content wood, often referred to as wet pockets, and uneven dry-ing conditions may occur when lumber of higher and lower moisture content is mixed together in a dry kiln. The primary objective of this preliminary study was to charac-terize the frequency a...
Article
Full-text available
Wood energy can be important in meeting the energy needs of Alaska communities that have access to abundant biomass resources. In the Kenai Peninsula, a continuing spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis (Kirby)) infestation has created large volumes of standing dead spruce trees (Picea spp.). For this evaluation, a site in the Kenai-Soldotna a...
Article
An evaluation of the retail market potential for random-width paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) lumber in Alaska was conducted. Information from lumber manufacturers and retail managers was used to identify current barriers to customer acceptance of locally produced paper birch lumber. Major retail markets and paper birch producing regions thr...
Article
An assessment was done of the lumber drying industry in Alaska. Part 1 of the assessment included an evaluation of kiln capacity, kiln type, and species dried, by geographic region of the state. Part 2 of the assessment considered the value- added potential associated with lumber drying. Various costs related to lumber drying were evaluated in an E...
Article
Findings from several market surveys and a limited marketing trial involving standard-sized, edge-glued hardwood blanks are presented. Results indicate market potential for rough blanks, that are intended for use as a raw material by finished product manufacturers, and for precisely trimmed, smooth, and packaged blanks that would be sold directly t...
Article
Abstract,, Geoffrey H.; Nicholls, David L.; Roos, Joseph. 2003.Marketing recommendations for wood products from Alaska birch, red alder, and Alaska yellow-cedar. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-589. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 13p. Several factors have contributed,to a recent decline in...

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Project (1)
Project
Quaking aspen chips were cofired with Usibelli coal at the Aurora Power Plant in Fairbanks, Alaska. During two days of testing, aspen chips were successfully cofired at average rates of 2.4 percent and 4.8 percent of total energy value. Combustion gasses were analyzed for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxygen, opacity, and nitrogen compounds. Cofiring biomass at low levels in grate combustion systems could be performed with relative ease, having only minor impacts on plant operations, including fuel storage and handling.