AKRON, OHIO - Standardiza-tion, categorization and wider use and acceptance of plastic lumber products are the aims of an alliance between the Akron-based Plastic Lumber Trade Association and Battelle Inc., a nonprofit research and development firm. The three-year alliance will seek help from plastic lumber manufacturers, the federal government and states in which plastic lumber makers operate as part of a three-pronged, $1.8 million effort, according to Alan Robbins, president of PLTA.
``We hope this project will have great impact by helping to develop government procurement guidelines, and optimized design guidelines for the marketplace,'' he said.
Prabhat Krishnaswamy, project manager for Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, said the project seeks new guidelines for the use and properties of plastic lumber, including establishing grades of ma-terial and targeting uses for each grade. It also will do ex-tensive service-life testing on plastic lumber, and compile a database on materials, properties, applications and designs.
PLTA, Owens Corning's waste fiberglass division, and the Ohio Department of Nat-ural Resources already have expressed interest in committing about one-third of the funds for the project, and Krishnaswamy is seeking about $250,000 per year for three years from federal sources.
``We will also be interested in gaining support from 12-15 states in which plastic lumber manufacturers operate,'' he said.
Because plastic lumber, made from scrap plastics, often varies greatly, and be-cause it performs differently than wood or metal in structural applications, the project aims to categorize the products and properties.
``We will try to find ways to establish grades of lumber - for instance, those lumber products which can best be used in structural applications might be grade A, and those used best in nonstructural purposes, or marine applications might be another grade,'' he said. ``We will accumulate information on how to fasten grades of lumber together or how long a single span of a plastic lumber element can be without sagging.''
Battelle's expertise in testing will be used to establish service-life data to let architects, engineers and designers know how long structures made with the materials will last and what the effects of weathering and other forces are.