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Researchers to Develop High-quality Forestry Products using Irish Timber

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Engineering Building at NUI Galway is home to the Timber Labratory, the primary timber and engineered wood products testing facility in Ireland.
The Engineering Building at NUI Galway is home to the Timber Labratory, the primary timber and engineered wood products testing facility in Ireland.

A new research initiative has begun at NUI Galway to develop high-quality forestry products in Ireland using innovative engineering technologies.

One of the first activities of the €0.5 million project is the creation of the first database to contain details of all the known properties of Irish-grown timber. Secondly, the research will attempt to re-engineer timber to produce products with enhanced strength and durability.

The demand for increased use of sustainable materials in areas such as construction has led to a demand for innovative timber products, which can replace more traditional materials that have poor environmental performance. Dr Annette Harte, a senior lecturer in Civil Engineering and member of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, will lead the research into methods for engineering Irish timber to produce high-performance construction products.

The project will utilise the latest technologies at the University’s timber research laboratory, which is the primary timber and engineered wood products testing facility in Ireland. Dr Harte will test the feasibility of using novel technologies such as cross-lamination and internal reinforcement of the timber components with fibre-reinforced polymer rods and plates to manufacture advanced construction products from Irish timber. 

“This funding will help us to develop a world-class competence to exploit Ireland’s natural resource of wood. We aim to identify the potential for producing added-value timber products for construction applications from Irish timber resources. These products will allow Irish timber to be used in more demanding applications than before, such as long-span and multi-storey construction”, explains Dr Harte.

The project is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine under the FIRM/RSF/COFORD scheme, and Queens University Belfast is a collaborating partner in the research, giving the results all-island impact.

Professor Colin Brown, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway added: “In the context of pressures on resources and the environment, innovation and resource efficiencies can go hand-in-hand with steady economic growth. Dr Harte’s work is helping to create better conditions for timber products and services that should have lower impacts across their life-cycles, and are durable, repairable and recyclable.”

According to Dr Martina Prendergast, Strategic Development Manager of the Ryan Institute: “As a result of securing the significant grant from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine, we are in a much better position to attract European funding from the EU Horizon 2020 programme to develop high quality forestry products which will be recognised around the world.”

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Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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