Forests are a natural resource of major economic significance to Canada and many other countries. For example, Atlantic Canada forest industries exported over $3.9 billion in wood products and had a direct employment of 37,900 persons in 2003. Secondary and value added products, particularly that of Canadian northern bleached softwood kraft market pulps represent revenues reaching $7.5 billion in 2007. Canada leads the world in wood pulp exports. In addition to direct employment, the industry has an indirect effect through demand for goods and services and diversifies income sources for many communities.

More recently, wood is recognized as a renewable resource and can sequester CO2. There is increasing emphasis on using wood for energy, bio-fuels and bio-chemicals production. Timely knowledge of wood characteristics is essential to ensure that the right fiber is directed to the appropriate wood manufacturing company at the right time and right cost to produce the right product.

Agenda 2020 has identified that a number of key variables that need to be measured accurately along the wood processing, from trees to logs to lumber and to secondary processing such as pulp and paper products. Measurements of wood and processing parameters will allow process monitoring and control, leading to consistent high product quality at minimal costs and energy consumption.

Reflectance spectroscopy, particularly visible-NIR spectroscopy, has shown much promise as an adaptable technology that would meet the requirements for fast, non-contact, and process capable as online and at-line analysers for monitoring wood and wood products properties. This paper will discuss the application of reflectance spectroscopy for measurements of standing tree wood properties, lumber properties during sawmilling operation, OSB flake properties and its use in panel production, and other pulp and paper applications. The paper will focus on adapting reflectance spectroscopy for on-line and at-line measurements for 24/7 operations.

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