Australian scientists win timber research award

Sunday, 18 March, 2001

Australian scientists have won the world's most prestigious award for timber research for the second year running.

CSIRO scientist Dr Rob Evans has won the Marcus Wallenberg Prize, regarded as the Nobel Prize for forestry and timber research, for 2001.

King Carl XVI of Sweden will present the prize, worth two million Swedish Crowns (A$400,000), to Dr Evans in October this year.

The Marcus Wallenberg Prize is an international prize which recognises, encourages and stimulates new research and development in the forestry and forest products industries.

Dr Evans was awarded the prize for his pioneering work in characterising the quality and structure of wood. This led to the development of an instrument called SilviScan, which allows the rapid analysis of wood samples to determine the optimum and most valuable end use of the timber.

SilviScan can be used to predict paper properties, or the strength of sawn timber, from tree structure. It can be used for breeding trees designed for future industrial uses, and for the speedy assessment of existing forests for industrial use.

In developing SilviScan, Dr Evans and his team had to solve problems involving optical microscopy, x-ray diffractometry, x-ray densitometry, image analysis and applied mathematics. He also had to devise methods of storing and analysing very large amounts of data derived from whole trees.

Dr Evans is currently running a commercial testing service on SilviScan with thousands of samples being tested from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Sweden. It is planned to manufacture a limited number of SilviScan instruments to provide a global network.

Item provided courtesy of CSIRO

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