trans-disciplinary group combine expertise in wood technology, biochemistry,
and machine learning to develop high tech approaches to advance and broaden the
usage of wood. This is done through bio-modification, new wood coatings, and
bonding to the application of machine learning algorithms to wood sector
WoodTec@EMPA – part of WoodTec’s research is the ongoing collaboration with ETH Zurich’s Wood Materials Science Group
WoodTec research projects include:
WoodTec4+ – Development and implementation of machine learning algorithms, analysis of big data produced by the wood industry
This is the latest iteration of the WoodTec research which engages in Big Data and AI. The research looks at effective approaches to apply machine learning to wood materials, structures, and construction, particularly the breadth of variability within wood materials and their properties. The research is specifically investigating wood grading and its potential for improvement into more exacting and precise classes.
Broader parameters, including mechanical properties can be tested quantitively, with greater precision and at higher speeds, aiming to improve techniques at grading strengths of wood through a neural network of machine learning. For other research projects see the main page here and scroll down.
NEST (Next Evolution in Sustainable
Building Technologies) -situated on
site at Empa’s Dubendorf research
campus, the modular construction technologies, materials, and systems R&D
collaboration between Empa and Eawag research institutes.
The unusual multistorey test building is split into a series of discreet micro-building sub-sections on and within the building’s different levels. Each micro-building sub-section is one of the test NEST projects. Of the five research sub-sections, two are relevant to timber related research, Vision Wood and DFAB House. For information covering DFAB House, see within the ETH Zurich section and scroll down to research projects here.
Wood – designed
around a (future) housing unit for three people, Vision
Wood is a
multi-focused research project into new wood materials, technologies, and
building products. It is also a live living research project, with two
researchers actually living in the modular unit to test how and what works, how
well and to what degree. The materials, technologies and products are in
partnership with different Empa research groups, companies, and other research
hubs, and include:
wood-fibre insulation plates (scroll down) – where the synthetic binding has been replaced by the ‘environmentally
friendly’ biopolymer, lignin compounds and modified starch, with Pavatex.
cellulose surface coating (scroll down) – aiming to lengthen duration, improve UV protection, and
water and other types of decay.
Related research: Bioinspired Wood Nanotechnology for Functional Materials – Berglund, L. and Burgert, I. Advanced Materials,Volume 30, Issue 19. May 10, 2018.
Hydrophobic wood (scroll down) – produced with a thin metal
oxide layer, waterproofing the wood surfaces and enabling it to be used with
and exposed to water, including a prototype wood sink, without risk of decay or
Superhydrophobic and Omniphobic Wood Surfaces – Guo, H, and Burgert.
I. et al in Advanced Materials Interface, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 9, 2017.
Magnetic Wood (scroll down) – by integrating nanoscale magnetic
particles into the grain of wood, a magnetic field is created, with the wood
Beech plywood (scroll down) The Vision Wood micro-building
showcases Empa and beech producer Fagus Suisse researched ‘slender but strong’
structural beech CLT panels within the building.
For all Vision Wood related research publications see here.
For a full overview of materials, technologies, and other information, see NEST’s main Vision Wood page – here and scroll down. An overview of the Vision Wood project can be found here and a short promotional video here (with English sub-titles).