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Research

The University of New Brunswick’s Wood Science and Technology Centre (WSTC) carries out technology transfer activities to the wood industry in Atlantic Canada and beyond.  With the funding from NSERC, NRCan, NRC-IRAP, NBIF and ACOA, WSTC has developed numerous technologies that support innovation in the wood industry.

Surface densification technology

For most non-structural applications, wood is subjected to indentation and abrasion in one form or another. Since wood is a relatively soft material, even in applications where abrasion and indentation loadings are light, wood must still possess a certain degree of surface hardness in order to reduce maintenance and replacement. Mechanical densification of wood is a technology whereby wood is compressed in the radial direction using heat, water and steam to produce a higher density product exhibiting better mechanical performances. This densified wood is an environmentally friendly product that presents new product opportunities for the wood products industry. It was discovered that

  1. Mechanical surface-densification of wood using a platen press was a promising technology, and
  2. The surface hardness of densified low-density wood such as aspen and balsam fir could match or even exceed that of red maple. The surface-densified wood is suitable for manufacturing appearance wood products such as flooring, stair treads and table tops.

Short finger profile for fabricating finger-joined structural lumber

The typical finger joint length used by Canadian engineered wood producers is 29 mm (1-1 /8 inches) for manufacturing structural finger-joined lumber. This joint length is considerably longer than that used in other countries. If the finger length can be reduced without compromising strength and durability, significant savings in material costs could be realized. A structural finger joint profile of 13 mm (1 /2 inch) in length was successfully developed. It was discovered that the finger-joined lumber fabricated using this short length joint profile kept the same or even slightly higher strength as that made using the conventional joint profile length of 29 mm (1-1 /8 inches). A typical finger-joined flange stock mill produces 50 million linear feet per year. By adopting this 13-mm-long joint profile developed, the mill could save 850,000 linear feet of good quality 2x3 lumber, equivalent to $170,000. This finding should be of significant interest to producers of structural finger-joined lumber, I-joists, glued-laminated timber (glulam) and cross-laminated timber (CLT).

Increased competitiveness of wood I-joists

This project studied the influence of component geometry and properties on bearing failure (knife-through) in flanges of wood I-joists and load-carrying capacity of wood I-joists with a web hole. The project goal was achieved by a combination of numerical modelling and experiments. It was found that

  1. The proposed modelling approach produced accurate predictions of failure load for I-joist with a square hole but under-estimated that for I-joist with a circular hole;
  2. The model could be a useful tool to investigate the relative influence of component properties and geometry on load-carrying capacity wood I-joists, leading to recommendations on reducing the testing requirements during product qualification;
  3. The influence of bending moment could be accounted for when evaluating the safe size or location of a web hole; and 
  4. A designer-useable method was also developed which could, with further calibration and simplification, be adopted as a useful design tool.

Red maple manufactured wood products 

Red maple is the most abundant hardwood species in eastern Canada. Because of its under-utilization and relatively high wood density, it has potential to be used as component material for engineered wood products (EWP). It was found that it was possible to produce 'high capacity' wood I-joists using the 2400f-2.0E grade quality red maple lumber and that Canadian red maple could be considered as equivalent to red maple that originated from the USA for glued laminated timber production. The analysis for common product sizes showed that it was economically viable to produce wood I-joists and glulam beams using red maple.

Hybrid cross-laminated timber (CLT)

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is an innovative building material, which is defined as a prefabricated solid engineered wood product made of at least three orthogonally adhesively bonded layers of solid sawn lumber. CLT was introduced in the early 1990s in Austria and Germany and has recently been gaining popularity in residential and non-residential construction for roof, floor and wall applications in Europe and North America. WSTC developed a type of hybrid CLT by using laminated strand lumber (LSL) as core layer(s), which significantly increases the rolling shear properties of CLT, and furthermore improves its structural performance.