WTS Newsletter - February 2015

The Wood Technology Society
4 Feb 2015

The Wood Technology Society: Where did we go wrong? or What's in a name?

It was suggested recently that we ought perhaps to consider a name change. Why on earth would we want to do that? The suggestion was not accompanied by a reason but one is not difficult to deduce! You all know what an oxymoron is - put the words wood and technology together and with many people, even still, something in the psyche seems, for some reason, to pop out of kilter just a tad.

'The longer the human race has used a material, the less it knows about it!' is the truism quoted by Borg Madsen, in his seminal work, 'Structural Behaviour of Timber' - which in his dedication he modestly refers to as a book. Timber Technology Society, then? I don't think so - timber is indeed wood but wood is oh so much more than just timber!

Materials World Magazine (a wood product) 13 October 2014: in 'Wood: A material for the 21st century', Peter Wilson discusses timber engineering and construction. And I was going to include a web link here but just 'google' nanocellulose for a look at the future! And now burning it as fuel comes with a 'high-tech' twist as well!

And so, by means of its component parts, let me point out why that name is, actually, quite perfect.

Wood: The most unassuming name for the most remarkable of materials - and in one way at least, wood is very much like water; mankind could not survive without it. We could get by without every other 'modern' material, life would be a whole lot different, back to the way we started, in fact, but we could survive; without it we could not - which provides employment for countless people across a myriad of industries worldwide.

Technology: When paired with, for example, 'aerospace' or 'medical', 'Massachusetts Institute of...' or even 'information' - these are quite the 'places' to be seen!

Society: There are many, more ubiquitous even than institutions and covering everything from aeronautical to zoological, and all with memberships comprised of individuals from senior learned professionals to students each with a similar interest in and passion for their chosen field.

So, here we have it

Wood - the material of the future

Technology - basically 'where's it's at': the continuing advancement of mankind's ability to utilise natural resources as ingeniously and as efficiently as possible.

Society - a body of committed individuals working for the advancement of their common interest

The Wood Technology Society - be a part of it and be proud to be seen as belonging to it!

Wood on the Beeb!

Our very own Dan Ridley-Ellis was recorded recently by the BBC World Service for 'The Forum' for an episode which is, not surprisingly, entitled simply 'WOOD'.

The other guests are Michael Green (who spoke about his cross-laminated tall buildings), Steven Isserlis and the Marquis de Coberon (Steven is the cellist, the Marquis is his cello) and Reginald Cline-Cole (who spoke about wood fuel in Africa).

Dan comments: 'the format of the show doesn't really give opportunity to go into much detail on anything but I think we, collectively, managed to get across a good message about wood (and the benefit of research). I didn't manage to get a mention in of the WTS but will see if I can plug it on the show's facebook page (which has 364 thousand likes)'.

The shows are podcast and archived online so it is possible to listen at any time. You will find it here.

Wood Technology - Enhancing performance of the resource

Optimising structural performance

As mentioned by Dan and discussed in the broadcast, this is an example of his work with technology to optimise utilisation of the UK wood resource.

Research at Edinburgh University's Centre for Wood Science and Technology has widened the potential for graded timber from UK forests and opened up machine grading as an option for smaller producers. Following approval at the October meeting of the European Committee CEN TC124 WG2 TG1, UK-grown larch now can be graded with MiCROTEC's GoldenEye x-ray grading machines, the handheld Brookhuis MTG and MiCROTEC's new ViSCAN-portable machines. The MTG can now also be used for British spruce (UK & IE) and the size range has been extended for the GoldenEye to permit smaller dimensions for products such as cross-laminated timber.

A new optional strength class has also been created called 'C16+' which makes the most of the inherent properties of British spruce giving a strength enhancement of 15% and density enhancement of 6% compared to C16 with no change to grading yields. The UK-grown larch grades to C20 or C22 with nearly 100% machine yield and contains between 30% and 40% yield of C27 with the rest grading to C16.

The larch work was funded by Forestry Commission Scotland and the Wales Forest Business Partnership (Wood Knowledge Wales/Welsh Government), James Jones & Sons Ltd, BSW Timber Ltd, Adam Wilson & Sons Ltd (Glennon Brothers). New timber samples were provided by BSW Timber Ltd, who also provided access to a grading line. Additional new timber samples were also sources from a PhD project funded by Forestry Commission Scotland, Forest Research and Edinburgh Napier University. Timber was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland. Access to a grading line was provided by Adam Wilson & Sons Ltd (Glennon Brothers).

The spruce work was delivered through 'The Wood Products Innovation Gateway (WPIG)', a project led by Edinburgh Napier University and co-founded by ERDF, Scottish Enterprise, FC Scotland, Wood for Good and Confor. The WPIG project aimed to raise the value of the forest resource in Scotland and new timber samples were provided by BSW Timber Ltd, James Jones & Sons Ltd, Murray Timber Group Ltd and John Gordon & Son Ltd. Access to a grading line was provided by BSW Timber Ltd. Additional new timber samples were also sourced from a PhD project funded by the Scottish Forestry Trust and Edinburgh Napier University, and supported by Forest Research and Forestry Commission Scotland. Timber was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland. Access to a grading line was provided by Adam Wilson & Sons Ltd (Glennon Brothers).

Additional practical assistance was provided by Forest Research, Buccleuch, Living Solutions and NUI Galway.

Link to photos (opens new window)

Optimising calorific performance

Biomass was the primary source of energy worldwide until a few generations ago, when the energy-density, storability and transportability of fossil fuels enabled one of the most rapid cultural transformations in the history of humankind; the Industrial Revolution. (The political correctness is not mine!)

There is a great deal of interest in torrefaction as a method of transforming biomass into a product more like coal. Torrefaction is not a new technology - it has been used industrially for hundreds of years to roast coffee beans - and its effects on wood chips and other biomass resources directly addresses many biomass limitations that are restricting industry expansion.

Read the the article



Congratulations to the recently appointed IOM3 Fellows, Simon Curling, Patrick Cooper, Morwenna Spear and Tamrat Tekle from Edmonton, Alberta.


At the most recent board meeting as well as putting in place the succession for the next terms of office it was agreed that, to be more in line with IOM3, the term of office for Chairman will now be three years rather than the present two and which I, starting 1 January 2016, will be the first to experience.

At the moment, it all seems rather daunting but with the current team in place - Andrew True, Chairman (who I will shadow for six months) and as of 1 January, Graham Ormondroyd, Senior Vice-Chairman with Paul Latham, Junior Vice-Chairman and at which time Graham will also take on the Newsletter - it should be a very rewarding three years and much less daunting.. once I've got the hang of it!

Did you know?

Was ist ein magisches Schloss? It is - Zauberburgen

So, when, as I do, you prune your garden trees you find yourself, as I do, with lots of 'wood' of a size that might be, depending on species, just the job for garden sticks or kindling or shredding to use as mulch or add to the compost bin. Stefan Lüpges would appear to be a little more imaginative than most and he can put to fine use even more of the skinny bits of tree than merely those above ground level! And fungus!


...and finally

Don't forget to keep an eye on the Schweighofer Prize. By the time you read this it will be too late to submit an entry for 2015 but it is most definitely something to keep in mind for next time!


Contact John Park