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3Wood: Could This Synthetic Wood Be a Solution to Deforestation?

From Australia comes a hardwood substitute, developed to end the need to log native forests.

Researchers from the Flinders Centre for NanoScale Science & Technology (CNST) in South Australia have collaborated with Australian company 3RT Holdings Pty Ltd to develop a method for converting cheap pulpwood into a tropical hardwood substitute, which is supposedly highly sustainable.

3Wood contains the same properties as tropical hardwood, but, according to  3RT, maintains a stronger dimensional stability and eliminates wastage. 3RT managing director Peter Torreele said, the availability of the new “smartwood” made it easier to reduce the carbon footprint of the manufacturing industry: “Almost 40 per cent of all logs in the world are being cut into chips for the pulp and paper industry. This 3Wood makes the harvesting of native forests, unnecessary. We are aiming to replace all applications where today hardwood would be used if it were available – furniture, floors, frames and there are other possibilities – it is endless.”

3Wood is made from a complete log and does not bleed out or stain nearby floors or walls. It is developed using ordinary pulpwood – which is cheap and accessible – and a unique water-based formaldehyde-free adhesive that reacts with the fibres in the wood to make it stronger. This process is known as lignocellulose manufacturing technology, which works to compress softwood to create a new product that is denser, harder and more durable than the original. 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.

Torreele said 3RT were in discussions with various companies around the world to commercialise the product.

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