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Research Call

DAFM Reference

Lead(Collaborating)Institution

DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2011 11/C/207 NUIG, (QUB) €484,663

Project Title:

Innovation in Irish Timber Usage

Project Coordinator:

Dr. Annette Harte

Project Abstract

Due to the increasing focus on the use of sustainable construction materials to meet environmental targets related to efficient energy use and emissions, a significant opportunity exists for the Irish wood products sector. In 2012, the Irish forestry and forest products sector generated €2.2 billion in annual output, representing 1.3% GDP, and employed approximately 12,000 people. Moreover, there exists a substantial potential to expand production. According to COFORD half of the forest estate is less than 25 years old and further expansion of forest cover is planned by policymakers. Forest products to a value of €303 million were exported: including €73 million worth of sawn softwood and €179 million worth of wood-based panels. In general, 89% of the wood-based panels were exported. The supply of roundwood from Irish forests is projected to increase from 3903 million m3 in 2011 to 7110 million m3 in 2028. These figures show the potential of Irish forests to provide increased and sustainable supplies of wood products. Increased sales of existing products and the development of new markets at home and abroad for new added-value wood products will lead to job creation across the sector. In order to increase the utilisation of Irish timber in construction, the mechanical and physical properties of the material must be established. For timber construction products, the fundamental properties are the bending modulus of elasticity, the modulus of rupture, the density and the dimensional stability as these define the structural grade of the material. As part of the project, all of the available historical data on the properties of Irish Sitka spruce, from published and unpublished sources, has being collated. This will be presented at a national conference in Belfast in August 2014. Moreover, testing of a large number of samples is being carried out to establish the mechanical and physical properties of the current resource. Links have been established with researchers at the Centre for Wood Science and Technology, Edinburgh Napier University, who have been undertaking similar work on British timber with a view to sharing data. Furthermore, in order to investigate the potential for new add-value timber construction products, the two key research areas are being addressed, namely, Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) reinforced timber and Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT).  Reinforcement of timber beams and connections with lightweight FRP rods will enhance the structural performance of Irish timber for building applications. In this project, the long-term behaviour of FRP reinforced beams in dry and moist environments is being investigated and the design of efficient FRP reinforced joints is being developed. Cross-laminated timber is a relatively new type of solid timber panel product with excellent load-carrying properties and is suitable for large scale commercial buildings. In this project, the potential use of Irish Sitka spruce in the production of CLT is being examined. The project aims to provide industry members with the ability to leverage the expertise and facilities available in Ireland to create new products.

Final Report:

Final Report (pdf 334Kb)