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Tasmanian hardwoods: The National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI)-funded projects at the University of Tasmania

Constructed Ecologies Research Theme Project

Overview

The National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) has funded eight projects at UTAS, seven of which are currently being delivered through the Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW):

  • NIF077_Sensing Technology and digital tools to support decision-making in hardwood timber drying
  • NIF078_Increasing the durability and other material characteristics of Tasmanian hardwoods
  • NIF079_Developing a new generation of Tasmanian appearance hardwood products for in-state design and manufacturing
  • NIF080_Developing laminated structural elements from fibre-managed plantation hardwood
  • NIF107_Minimising market-limiting discolouration in appearance Tasmanian hardwood
  • NIF108_New methods of reliably demonstrating species durability in commercially relevant timeframes
  • NIF109_Managing timber’s moisture content in the supply chain, construction and in service

Currently in Australia there is a huge timber plantation resource that was established during the late 1990s agribusiness Managed Investment Scheme (MIS) and which is now reaching maturity. Unfortunately, due to lack of coordinated planning and foresight, many of the trees planted were hardwood Eucalyptus species that are primarily only useful for cheap export as pulp and paper given their low density, high number of features and other biological characteristics. The NIFPI projects at UTAS primarily aim to investigate ways in which to capture extra value from the plantation timber, for example by turning it into higher value building products.

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Impact and Engagement

The eight NIFPI projects currently underway at UTAS aim to deliver a range of outcomes for the forest and wood products sector. Overall, the projects aim to increase the efficiency of production processes, reduce waste, and increase the value of certain Tasmanian hardwood species, particularly plantation eucalypts, to support a resilient and sustainable timber industry into the future. More specifically:

  • NIF077 will employ state-of-the-art monitoring technology and the University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) Sense-T data platform to improve the recovery, quality and value of sawn hardwoods by deploying advanced information sensing and modelling technology during air-drying of sawn boards.
  • NIF078 will test the feasibility of commercial scale treatment and modification of eucalypt wood panel samples and sawn boards to improve their durability and fire resistance. The research aims todetermine impediments to wood product chemical treatment uptake, and test for characteristic improvements and/or deterioration in the treated samples in order to support timber processors to potentially utilise lower grade logs for easy-to-manufacture products that meet durability and fire resistance regulated requirements.
  • NIF079 aims to develop new generation Tasmanian appearance grade timber products using recovered native, reclaimed and emerging plantation timber resources. The research aims to develop a suite of appearance grade products (e.g. flooring and linings) that can be applied in domestic and commercial buildings, in order to add value to otherwise underutilised forest resources.
  • NIF080 aims to improve the utilisation of Tasmanian plantation hardwood by developing new engineered wood products from sawn boards. The research aims to determine the feasibility of making glue laminated elements (glulam) from sawn structural boards recovered from plantation hardwood otherwise destined for export for pulp and paper.
  • NIF107 aims to identify the causes and generate management tools to address the impacts of market-limiting, process-induced discoloration of appearance Tasmanian hardwood boards, particularly ‘tyre track’ recently found in thin section appearance plantation Tasmanian Oak (E. nitens) and ‘sticker mark’ in Tasmanian Blackwood.
  • NIF108 explores ways in which to demonstrate acceptable durability of natural and modified Tasmanian hardwood species in commercially relevant timeframes, tests material not covered by current durability standards, and establishes longer duration comparative trials of testing processes and material performance.
  • NIF109 focuses on understanding and providing guidance on managing the moisture content conditions to which timber and wood products are exposed and react in the timber supply chain, in the wood distribution network, at construction sites, and in-service in operational buildings. As timber and wood products are stored and used in numerous workplaces, sites, and buildings, the methodology concentrates on areas of known product loss or risk and aims to identify necessary and effective preventative action.

Grants

Forest and Wood Products Australia - National Institute for Forest Products Innovation

Publications

Refer to Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood (CSAW) | Publications

People