Increasing hardwood utilization in the cross-laminated timber market
November 12, 2020
The SBIO department’s Henry Quesada (PI), Brian Bond and Dan Hindman (CoPIs) along with the architecture department’s Edward Becker (CoPI) have received a grant from the USDA Forest Service for almost $180K to study the use of hardwood veneer and lumber in the cross-laminated timber (CLT) market.
The market for cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels is continuously growing. The potential of using hardwood value-added products as CLT raw material provides the incredible opportunity of removing hardwood logs from national forests which previously have not been harvested due to economic infeasibility. Application of hardwood lumber to CLT would have a significant impact on tree removal. For example, if just the top and bottom layers of a 5-ply, softwood CLT panel could be replaced by hardwood, this would create a 40% increase in demand for hardwood lumber by the CLT market.
The goal of this project is to create a new market for hardwood through its use in the manufacturing of CLT panels. Currently, the CLT code, PRG-320, only allows select softwood species to be used in the manufacturing of CLT panels. All work conducted to-date on increasing hardwoods’ use has focused on producing and using it for structural components.
For this project, they will focus on creating opportunities to increase hardwood use in CLT by adding hardwood as the outer layers of CLTs, primarily for its visual appearance. Many CLT panels are used as wall and flooring components and other hardwood materials are also added for decorative walls and flooring. By using hardwood as the outer layers of softwood CLTs, they plan to increase the use of hardwood lumber. Hardwood veneer and lumber will be added as the outer layers to CLT panel cores made from southern yellow pine in compliance with PRG-320. This project will partner with Danzer Veneer America, Allegheny Wood Products (AWP), and Texas CLT to manufacture and evaluate the performance and potential market acceptance of CLT panels made with this hardwood veneer.
They will evaluate the delamination of the hardwood veneer and lumber from the softwood core and determine what influence the hardwood layers have on the strength properties of CLT. They will also conduct a market perception test of these hardwood veneer laminated CLT panels among architects and structural designers in the U.S. They believe that the results of this project could increase the market for hardwood veneers and lumber by 10% over current consumption.
The results of this project will be instrumental in continuing to develop a path forward to incorporate hardwood products into the CLT market. Veneer laminated CLT panels could provide additional markets for high-grade hardwood logs, and hybrid CLT panels could provide a sustainable market for low-grade hardwood lumber in non-structural markets such as road mats. As a whole, hardwood products could find new domestic markets and add numerous employment opportunities to the industry.
Finally, product quality and appearance would make it more appealing to CLT consumers, which is crucial to attracting more business. Increased consumption of hardwoods ultimately results in more tree removal from forest lands which has the added benefit of reducing fire hazards.