Reducing carbon footprint with the new “smartwood” for the furniture industry

3Wood blocks manufactured from (left to right) Blackbutt, Bluegum and Radiata Pine.

In a collaboration between researchers from the Flinders Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology (CNST) in South Australia and Australian company 3RT Holdings Pty Ltd, a new method that converts cheap pulpwood into a highly sustainable tropical hardwood substitute was introduced.

Known as 3Wood, the engineered tropical hardwood is said to have the same strength as a 100-year-old tree. The material contains the same properties as tropical hardwood but maintains a stronger dimensional stability, making it easier to be moulded into furniture. In addition, 3Wood also eliminates wastage and is a more environmentally friendly alternative to other products. 

“We can manufacture blocks of wood out of pulpwood with the same strength as a 100-year-old tree but without the problems,” director and co-developer David Lewis of CNST said.

“There is a lot of wastage in current hardwood production. If you take a big tree only a small percentage of that becomes hardwood, the rest is chipped and burned.

“We use a glue to stick it (the wood-waste) together and reconstitute it, get it into one block and do it in an environmentally friendly system. Our adhesive is formaldehyde free.”

3Wood is made from a complete log – includes wastewood – and does not bleed out or stain nearby floors or walls.

To achieve this, 3RT uses a process known as lignocellulose manufacturing technology to compress softwood to create a new product that is denser, harder and more durable than the original.

During the process, ordinary pulpwood – which is cheap and accessible – is given a unique water-based adhesive that reacts with the fibres in the wood to make it stronger. The wood is then exposed to a combination of temperature and pressure to form it into a rectangular shaped 3wood block with dimensions of 120cm x 13cm x 5cm. The strength of the new wood makes it easier to manipulate its shape as well as to make it termite resistant, UV light resistant, water resistant or fire retardant (these modifications are still being developed).

In addition, the new “smartwood” helps to reduce carbon footprint in the manufacturing industry too.

Source: The Lead