For over a decade, we have researched and experimented with ways of making our built environment less harmful to the environment and to the Earth’s inhabitants. As we have learned, materials may account for as much as 50 % of a building’s CO2 footprint. Another aspect is the widespread use of hazardous impregnation chemicals typically used for wooden materials.
In an ongoing research project, we are investigating whether we can treat wood in a way that gives the material significant longevity through a special type of impregnation, without adding toxic chemicals or fungicides. The research project is a collaboration between Snøhetta, the Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology, wood industry group Moelven Industrier and Optime SubSea, a supplier company for deep sea installations. The project is supported by Innovation Norway.
In a series of tests, we have applied hyperbaric pressure up to 2000 BAR to wood samples immersed in different organic solvents and natural oils, amongst them tall oil – a natural, toxic free byproduct of the paper industry.
Our research hypothesis is that by impregnating natural wood oil into the wood under hyperbaric pressure, one can obtain complete impregnation and an extremely high oil content in the wood. This will in turn protect the wood from harmful insects, damaging fungi and rot, and act as a long-lasting, toxic free impregnation.
In a series of tests, we have applied hyperbaric pressure up to 2000 BAR to wood samples immersed in different organic solvents and natural oils.
The samples are now being tested in the laboratory at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) and at several other locations in Norway to verify the hypothesis and test the longevity of the pressured wood samples.
If our hypothesis is confirmed, we believe that this processing technique will represent a natural, nontoxic impregnation for the future, further promoting the use of wood as a CO2-capturing asset in the construction of buildings.
We’ll keep you in the loop as we proceed!