Trees Talk With Technology

Testing RFID, machine-readable ink and nanoparticles.

by / May 19, 2009

Twenty eight partners from Estonia, Finland, France, Norway and Sweden are investigating new ways of tagging and tracking trees as they move from logs to sawmills to wood products. Inefficient management of European forests, wastes 10 percent of the value of the wood, according to a white paper on the project, as logs suitable for lumber and other products are inefficiently chipped and converted into wood pulp used in paper-making.

Technologies being investigated include RFID -- even an RFID chip made from biodegradable natural fiber that is acceptable for papermaking. Swedish scientists are investigating computer readable ink that must survive extremes of temperature -- even log steaming in preparation for conversion into plywood. Lasers can read the codes through snow, dirt and ice, but costs have been high.

Embedded nanoparticles are the next technology to be tested. The European Union is funding nearly two-thirds of the 12 million Euro cost, with companies chipping the in the remainder.

Wayne Hanson Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government