Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fall Follow-up - Sutton, WV

Because there were so many places in the state that are important to the forest products industry, it was impossible for us to visit every place on the week-long summer trip.  Therefore, we took a follow-up trip to the Sutton area to tour the Weyerhauser Sutton OSB plant and Appalachian Timber Services.
We drove to from the Cabell County Board of Education office at 4:30 and arrived at the Sutton Day’s Hotel by 6:30.  After checking in, we went to CafĂ© Cimino for an excellent dinner.  Everyone was pleased with the meal and enjoyed getting back together.

Our first visit was to the Weyerhauser Sutton OSB plant where we saw oriented strand board being manufactured.  We were impressed that wood going into the Sutton OSB facility is otherwise not usable for many other forest products uses.  Many of the logs are the tops of trees that had been felled for dimensional lumber or veneer.  On entering the plant, the logs are debarked, shredded then dried.  Energy for the drier comes from burning the bark and other wood waste.  The shreds are blown into mats with the fibers at alternating right angles.  Once compressed, a mat of fibers that is about seven inches thick will yield a half inch thick OSB board.  The OSB is formed into sections that are 12 X 24 feet then cut into 4 X 8 sheets. We were impressed at the environmental friendliness of the Weyerhauser Sutton OSB plant.  Most of the energy for drying and heating the wood fibers comes from burning the waste.  Water used to wash the logs is filtered and recycled.  Most of all, the plant’s raw material is wood that would otherwise go to waste following logging in a forest.

A nice lunch at the Flatwoods Shoneys prepared us for the afternoon visit to Appalachian Timber Services where treated wood products are manufactured.  This plant produces all of the treated lumber of the New York City Transit.  Rail ties and landscape timbers are common products.  They also produce a great deal of wood support structure for mines and rail bridges.  Like many other facilities that we have toured, much of their energy is provided by burning wood waste.  Wood waste not used to provide heat is sold to nearby wood pellet manufacturers. Appalachian Timber Services pressure treats hard and softwoods with creosote which makes it rot and insect resistant.
While it was great to see everyone again and to follow up on the spring and summer work, we are already thinking about the 2013 project on glass and ceramics.  While plans are very incomplete at this time, the model will follow the prior years’ president with a spring course on the history and science of glass and a culminating summer trip to the glass producing regions of the state.  More information will be announced as plans develop.  First announcement of the project will be made on this blog.

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