When manufacturers produce wood products - everything from furniture to pencils - there are always leftover residue materials they deem unsuitable for production. This material includes anything from wood scraps to sawdust, and even defective pieces. And some tree species produce wood that is just less valuable than others.
So, what happens to all this unused material?
That's a question Eva Haviarova has been working to answer. The associate professor of wood products, in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, is on a mission to create value from these leftover materials by finding uses for these less-used pieces.
One of her projects uses these materials to create functional school furniture - chairs and desks - in developing countries. Her project has global reach, taking her work to countries like Haiti, Afghanistan, and Guatemala.
"With that project, it is combining small pieces into something more substantial, something very strong," Haviarova said. "As a strength designer, I think this is a very important contribution to sustainability, because if we are extending a product's lifespan, we are using less material."
Haviarova's designs are for a simple desk and chair that utilizes residue materials, local wood species and an easy production setup. This furniture has helped schools in a variety of ways, but most important, it has provided a better learning environment for children while adding value to wood that is often overlooked.
This video is part of the Visionaries series, which highlights the work and lives of researchers in the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Visionaries is a collaboration with Envision magazine.
Check out the Envision story: Using the Unused
The videos were created by the student filmmakers of YDAE 491 (Digital Storytelling), part of the agricultural communication program in the Purdue Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication.
The team members for this video are: Rebecca Frazier (leader for this video), Laine Barth, Sheradan Hill, and Hannah Tucker.