Modification, Innovation and Sustainability in the Timber Industry
Primarily, species to be modified are sourced from rapidly-growing softwood trees from certified plantations resulting in an environmentally friendly, more-than-worthy alternative to its established predecessor. The modification process improves one or more properties. The objective is that these softwoods have properties that are valued, primarily for their beauty, durability, strength and stability. Currently a number of modification technologies have been commercialised.
One such well-established method is acetylation, a form of chemical modification, which alters bonding of water to wood, thus improving its resistance to decay and stability. Another, thermal modification, predictably involves heating the wood to change its chemical structure and properties, whilst LIGNIA’s method integrates several modification techniques, including impregnating the material with resin – making it dense and durable, with the aesthetic of tropical hardwood and a mild thermal treatment. An overarching benefit of these modified woods is that they are, in a sense, ‘designed’ to have less variation in their properties.
There is stringent control over the quality of materials used and in the process of manufacture. This is apparent in modified woods’ resistance to decay. The variation of heartwood – the central wood of a tree – in a single species may vary in the extreme dependent on the source of the material. The modification process significantly reduces this level of variation.
Dr Andy Pitman is the Technical Director of LIGNIA Wood Company. This article first appeared in Architects Datafile Magazine in August 2019.