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An international research carried out by TUT scientists values Estonian wood as a building material

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In the framework of Action FP1303 “Performance of Biobased Building Materials” of the European cooperation network in science and technology COST, a total of 28 European research institutions and industrial partners, including Tallinn University of Technology and Estonian University of Life Sciences, teamed up.

In the course of four years of the cooperative test the performance of different wood species and thermally modified wood as well as stainless steel and galvanized screws under a range of climatic exposure conditions are examined. To conduct the test, the research group of wooden materials and composites of Tallinn University of Technology has placed two performance test tables outdoors on the roof of a study building at the university campus; one of the performance test tables, the so-called international table, is made of untreated Norway spruce (Picea abies) and English oak (Quercus robur) and thermally modified Norway spruce (Picea abies), the other performance test table is made of Estonian wood (Norway spruce impregnated with the wood preservative Impralit-KDS using different impregnation cycles ).

As a result of the project valuable information has been collected on the impact of various geographical locations on the resistance of wood and fasteners. A set of data loggers and sensors helps to collect information on moisture content of wood and ambient temperature. The local weather stations all over Europe provide information on the intensity of UV radiation, sunny days and rainfall. A certain test programme is used to evaluate wood decay and development of mould, formation of cracks, corrosion of screws and to measure discolouration by a chroma meter, etc.

A member of the steering group of the COST Action FP1303, Professor at the Chair of Woodworking, Jaan Kers says, “The main goal of this Europe-wide research project is to introduce wood as a valuable, environmentally friendly and, in case of proper treatment and design, also durable building material.  All the participants in the project can also make use of the test data of other countries.”

“The strong and durable Nordic softwood grown in Estonian climate is suitable for use in the structure of wooden buildings or as treated cladding. Unfortunately it is still not widely used in construction,” the head of the research group of wooden materials and composites of Tallinn University of Technology, Professor Kers notes.

The TUT Chair of Woodworking has many contacts with Estonian forest and timber industry enterprises; one of the performance test tables is also made of Norway spruce impregnated by AS Imprest by using various technological processes.

According to Professor Jaan Kers, the ultimate goal of the research is to obtain confirmation regarding variations in the performance of wood materials and fasteners in different geographical locations. The research results can be used for effective preservative treatment of wood for the purposes of manufacturing wood façades and outdoor furniture.

“When properly treated and designed, wood is very durable and high quality building material, which should be used more widely in the construction of residential and public buildings in future,” the head of the research group says.

Additional information: Professor Jaan Kers, jaan.kers@ttu.ee

Original text by Kersti Vähi, TUT Research Administration Office

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