Benefits of wood

Published: 24 February 2015

Wood is one of Sweden’s areas of strength. Sweden's wood industry and its subcontractors are very important for Sweden's export revenue, employment and the development of a sustainable society. There are about 8000 companies in the wood sector. The sector employs 44000 persons and has a turnover of 98 billion SEK. In addition there are jobs created indirectly at subcontractors, consultants, machine manufacturers, service business and other sectors.

Wood is a renewable and national resource with large environmental, technical and aesthetical benefits that should be used to create growth, employment and sustainable development in our country.

A too large share of the wood raw material is exported as planks and boards instead of being further refined in the wood value chain.

Variability brings challenges

Wood is a biological material where no piece is similar to the other. This fact is a major competitive advantage when the single piece of wood has been put in place in a wood product. During the manufacturing phase the variability of wood is a great challenge since it requires an individual treatment of each wood piece. Until the 1950´s skilled craftsmen dealt with the variability of wood. Subsequently increased production demands in the wood industry led to a bulk handling of the wood that led to a non-optimal usage of the raw material.

The whole tree is utilized

Internationally, Sweden is a leading producer and exporter of forest products. The income from the forest product industry export is one of the corner stones of Swedish economy. The forest industry is facing an ever-increasing global competition, especially from start-ups in Asia and South America but also from products based on non-renewable raw materials produced at low cost.

One of the strengths for the Swedish forest sector is that we are using the whole tree in an efficient way to create products that are requested on the international market. Within the sector products such as solid wood, pulp, paper and energy are the main products produced. Now that competition in certain product areas increases, it also means an increased stress in other parts of the sector in the long term. It definitely gives the wood industry a key role. As shown by the above reasoning, the potential for increased use of wood products is very large.

Industrialized building is far ahead

Without an earnest investment on converting the forest industry product range, the sectors share of the export income and employment will gradually decrease. For this to be avoided a higher degree of further processing, development of new products, new system solutions and services.

Sweden´s wood industry has a high level of technical and commercial standard on the international level. Especially when looking at industrial house building and production of sawn wood products. Within joinery and furniture sector the image of the technical and commercial level is more varied. There is certainly a large potential for improvement.

Research goals

Our goal is by using existing and new technologies to give wood the physical, chemical and aesthetical properties that optimize the functionality of the end product. We link the properties of the raw material with property enhancing processes that bring new qualities and functionality to the forest raw material. Development of new green and cost efficient processes for further processing and modifying of the wood properties is of utmost importance. It is also important to show the advantages of the wood material in comparison with other construction materials from a environmental and sustainability perspective.

Prioritized research

  • Defining characteristics of important wood product groups.
  • Develop ways to enhance wood properties by green modification techniques.
  • Statistical tools to analyze correlation between production parameters and manufacturing process.
  • Refining of native low quality wood species.
  • Develop methods for dimensional stabilization of wood.
  • Study the influence of wood material properties of impregnation agents and process parameters.
  • Mold in outdoor applications relating to process and material parameters.
  • Study the VOC emissions from wood intended for indoor use.
  • Densification of wood by simultaneous compression and thermal modification
  • Thermal modification and after-treatment to increase the resistance for woods intended for outdoor use.
  • Drying and collapse reactions for certain wood species.
  • Study internal cracks and there cause during thermal modification.
  • Modeling the drying process, with special focus on the capillary  drying phase.
  • Gas and fluid permeability for different species to diagnose drying and impregnability.
  • Properties of wood fiber boards based on heat treated wood fibers.
  • Develop methods for verifying and calculating the real life cycle cost and long term environmental effects of different products such as modification and surface treatment methods.
  • Development of sensors who register mechanical, moisture and ageing parameters.