• Hoover, K K. (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


In the US, the use of methyl bromide (MB) fumigation for quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) purposes continues to rise with the expansion of world trade and increasing globalization. The US wood products industry will continue to employ MB for the QPS purposes of treatment of wood packaging materials (WPM) and related wood materials as long as alternative, cost effective alternatives are limited. Wood packaging material is a vital part of global trade. Pallets "move the world," with several billion pallets used each day around the globe in domestic and international shipping. US shipments of wood containers and pallets in 2015 were valued at $9 billion, exceeding $10 billion in 2017. Of all QPS uses, wood packaging materials (WPM), which can serve as pathways for pests posing risks to living trees, is one of the greatest users of MB fumigation to kill pests that may be inside the wood. Treatment of WPM by one of 3 approved treatment methods is mandated by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) under the International Standard of Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM-15). Our team has spent years developing radio frequency (RF) technology and generated the data required to have this treatment method approved by the IPPC in compliance with ISPM-15 a few years ago, but cost effectiveness needs to be improved for adoption to occur. In 2016, we discovered that adding pressure to the RF chamber during treatment dramatically reduced the time required to treat, improved heating uniformity, and reduced energy and labor costs significantly.This project is designed to expediate broad adoption of RF with pressure technology in compliance with ISPM-15 for crates, pallets, and dunnage (large pieces of wood used to brace cargo and containers during transit by sea or land). We will develop optimized treatment schedules for mixtures of hardwood and softwood materials used to construct WPM, evaluate the economics of this method in comparison with currently used practices by the industry, and deliver value propositions for implementing this technology. A product value proposition specifies how a product delivers value for a specific customer and captures value for the product provider by offering its customer tangible product features, including quantifiable benefits for a certain price. If the value proposition is successful, it should demonstrate more value than alternative products at a similar, if not lower total cost for the target customer. The RF value proposition will be contrasted with the manufacturer's current phytosanitation technology. Ultimately, we will propose a working list of recommendations to improve RF technology adoption based on our findings, including wood products processing equipment manufacturer channel analysis and input from our Stakeholder Advisory Committee.Extension and outreach is a major part of this project. We are in frequent contact and have regular meetings with our 6-member Stakeholder Adivsory Committee. This adivsory committee was established in 2014 and will continue to meet twice/year with our team (once in person at the annual meeting of the International Forestry Quarantine Research Group (IFQRG) and once by video Skype conference). IFQRQ is the scientific advisory body to the Technical Panels of Forestry Quarantine and Phytosanitary Treatment; PI Hoover and co-PI Janowiak are members of IFQRG and Hoover is on the Science Adivsory Committee for this organization.The Penn State RF technology web site (http://abe.psu.edu/research/bio-based-products/wood-packaging) will be enhanced and updated to reach the maximum number of stakeholders. Website Posts include: RF heating technology, key research findings, and current and potential applications. Once our economic analyses are completed, cost/benefit comparisons among treatment technologies, and advantages of using RF technology will be posted. A news blog and Twitter will be used to post major developments in research, applications, adoption of the technology and press releases transmitted when appropriate."How to" videos will be tailored to the audience, produced, and made available to the Capacity Development Committee of the IPPC and equipment certifiers for educating ISPM-15 signatory countries. Videos that are relevant to the public and the industry will be posted on our website and provided on a flash drive to industry cooperators. These videos will explain in laymen's terms what dielectric heating is, what RF is and how it works, how it is used operationally, and what are its advantages.Interactions with the industry and port authorities. In conjunction with visits to WPM manufacturers as we develop value propositions for our cooperators, we will also visit some of the busiest ports, including Port Elizabeth NJ, Port of Philadelphia, and Port of Savannah to meet with inspectors and certified treaters regarding infested dunnage (costs, volume, and potential RF solutions). We will provide a flash drive with educational videos, a fact sheet and the URL to access our website, and follow up with phone calls to address questions/concerns.Workshop Demonstration at Penn State. We will invite stakeholders from the industry, including members of the Keystone Kiln Drying Association (Extension Educator Weikert is Chair), for a ½ day workshop at PSU to demonstrate how RFP works in real life and discuss its advantages and costs/benefits.Exhibit at National Wood Pallet & Container Association Leadership Conference, March 2019 (http://www.palletcentral.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=870806, we will set up an exhibit and give a presentation about RFP and its benefits at this 3-day conference. Previous attendance was a few years ago; the technology and its costs/benefits have advanced since then.Dielectric Heating Guidance Document. Members of our team wrote a draft of this document a few years ago. The Chair of the Technical Panel on Phytosanitary Treatments of the IPPC has asked us to update it for distribution by the Capacity Development Committee of the IPPC to the WPM industry, certified treaters, and National Plant Protection Organizations; this document will also be linked to our website.We will use web analytics (e.g., google analytics) to determine the number of stakeholders who viewed our web content and their depth of review. We will also monitor technology adoption through feedback surveys from meeting engagements/ workshops and through periodic engagement with trade associations. The most important benchmarks will be adoption of this technology by the industry, endorsement of RF by regulatory authorities, and a significant reduction in use of methyl bromide for WPM and dunnage.

Effective start/end date7/1/186/30/21


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $499,979.00


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