Newswise — Cross-laminated timber has grown substantially in popularity for use in exterior walls, floors, partition walls and roofs. However, it has not been used in highway bridges in the United States.

A South Dakota State University faculty member will be the first person in the U.S. to study the use of cross-laminated timber on a low-volume vehicle bridge.

Junwon Seo, an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers Timber Bridges Committee, has received a $375,700 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service through its Wood Innovations Grant Program. The figure includes $125,700 of in-kind contributions.

According to the Forest Service, the grant program received 103 proposals from different government and industrial agencies and academic institutions. It selected the 35 projects for funding. Since 2015, this award has been the first Wood Innovations Grant awarded in South Dakota.

Seo said the success of receiving the award was based on his previous laboratory investigation funded by USDA NIFA through the North Central Regional Sun Grant Center at SDSU and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Mountain-Plains Consortium. In the project, Seo demonstrated cross-laminated timber can be used as structural bridge materials to resist dead loads and live loads.

Seo’s plan is to design, fabricate and build a field demonstration bridge through the collaboration with various government agencies, cross-laminated timber producers and bridge engineers. Also, Seo will assess the wheel load distribution and load rating of the bridge through collaboration with a Minnesota county and monitor its moisture contents and deterioration through visual inspection for at least six months.

“CLT has great potential to promote wood products markets in bridges on low‐volume roads such as rural or forest roads. These efforts will be a significant benefit that demonstrate the feasibility of the demonstration CLT bridge and that provides forefront information needed to create new standards for exterior applications of CLT,” Seo said.