Exploitation And Realisation of Thinnings from Hardwoods (EARTH)

 Start Date: 01/03/2017                                                                            End Date: 30/4/2019

Funders:                                     DAFM

Principal Investigators:    Prof. Annette Harte

Research partner:                Dr Ian Short (Teagasc)

Researcher:                             Dr Daniel Fernández Llana (Post-doc)

Objective: This project aims to investigate novel and potential added-value uses of Irish hardwood thinnings. This will be achieved by undertaking a study of current status of the resource to quantify the available dimensions from first and second thinnings. The physical and structural properties of the material will be determined through experimental testing. A drying and durability study will be carried out. Based on the information arising out of these investigations, potential end-uses of the material will be identified, both in roundwood form and as engineered wood products, in addition to wood energy products.

EARTH Project Website

The influence of silvicultural practices on mechanical properties of Irish timber

Start Date: 01/10/2015                                                                            End Date: 01/10/2019

Funders:                                      Teagasc, DAFM

Principal Investigators:    Prof. Annette Harte

Researcher partner:           Dr N Farrelly (Teagasc)

Researcher:                              Luka Krajnc (PhD)

Objective: Forest management practices are currently based on optimising production volume rather than structural quality. Researchers at Teagasc have undertaken studies to determine the influence of various thinning practices on the growth and development of the forest crop. However, there are no comprehensive studies on the effect of silvicultural practices on the structural performance of Irish-grown timber. This study will endeavour to correlate the structural properties with different thinning systems across different tree species in order to optimise silvicultural practices that will allow, in future, an increase in yields of timber grown for construction purposes. 

Commercialisation of Irish Cross-Laminated Timber (CICLT)

Start Date: 01/01/2017                                                            End Date: 31/12/2017

Funder:                                        DAFM

Principal Investigators:    Prof. Annette Harte

Researchers:                            Dr Conan O’Ceallaigh (Post-doc)

Summary: In recent times there has been an increased demand for the use of sustainable construction materials to meet environmental targets related to energy use and emissions. One of the most promising construction materials meeting these targets is cross-laminated timber (CLT). The project ‘Innovation in Irish Timber Usage’ has confirmed that there is potential in using Irish Sitka spruce for CLT manufacture and this presents new opportunities for Irish timber in the home and export markets. A niche product with huge capability for commercialisation, a CLT modular floor system, was identified. This project further developed this product for launching on the market, further verification of mechanical performance has been carried out. In addition,  suitable metallic connectors have been investigated when used in combination Irish made CLT flooring systems. This research has significantly improved the understanding of wall-floor connection behaviour and will aid the development of a high performance flooring system for lowest possible costs.

Impacts of faster growing forest on raw material properties with consideration of the potential effects of a changing climate on species choice (FASTFORESTS)

Start Date: 01/06/2014                                                                            End Date: 31/05/2017

Funder:                                      EU FP7 Woodwisdom ERANET; DAFM

Principal Investigator:     Prof. Annette Harte

Project partners:                 Dr C O’Reilly (UCD), Prof M Nieuwenhuis (UCD), Dr A Ni Dhubhain (UCD),                                                                       Dr F Bruechert (FVA, DE); G Prévost (Abibois, FR); Dr J-D Lanvin (FCBA, FR);                                                                   Dr J Moreau (ESB, FR)

Industrial Collaborator:  ECC Sawmills

Researchers:                           Karlo Simic (PhD)

Objectives: This collaborative project between Ireland, France and Germany aims to:

- Use modelling approaches to present options of ensuring the quantity of future wood supply from the forest under the changing climate, using adopted tree species and provenances grown under sustainable management systems.

- Develop new approaches for allocation of raw material to end products, increasing efficiency in production and reducing waste.

- Identify means to improve social acceptance of intensively managed forests.

An in-situ assessing of heat loss through thermal bridging by means of infrared thermography technique (ITT)

Start Date: 15/11/2011                                                            End Date: 30/06/2017

Funder:                                         NUI Galway, Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher IV-2014-4203

Principal Investigator:        Prof. Annette Harte

Research Collaborator:     Dr Agnieszka Lechowska (Cracow University of Technology, Poland)

Industrial Collaborator:    SIP Energy

Researchers:                             Gosia O’Grady (PhD)

Objective: This project was established with the objective to:

- Develop a measurement method that allows the heat flow rate through a thermal bridge in external building envelope and its the Ψ-value to be quantified by means of infrared thermography technique (ITT).

- Applying the methodology to indoor conditions for single and multiple thermal bridges.

- Adapting the methodology to outdoor conditions; investigating the influence of different wind velocities on the assessment of heat loss through thermal bridges using the ITT.

Quantifying the environmental impacts associated with the production of wood products from Irish forests

Start Date: 01/01/2012                                                                                  End Date: 31/12/2016

Funder:                                  IRC/Coillte; NUI Galway

Principal Investigator:  Prof. Annette Harte

Researchers:                      Desmond Dolan (PhD)

Summary: This research involved undertaking a detailed investigation into the total environmental impacts associated with the production of both forestry and construction wood products using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a process based environmental assessment methodology. In addition, a national energy based 'Input-Output LCA' tool was developed in order to quantify the environmental effects of any product or service from a given industry based on its economic value. Using a hybrid of these two approaches, the 'top-down' Input-Output approach and the previously described process based or 'bottom-up' LCA approach, the total environmental impacts of the forestry and wood-based products were quantified. From these results, the comparative environmental advantages of sustainably harvested wood construction products were assessed by examining existing and planned structures over their whole life cycle.

Innovation in Irish Timber Usage (IITU)

Start Date: 01/01/2013                                                                                 End Date: 31/07/2016

Funder:                                           DAFM (10 C 207)

Principal Investigator:          Prof. Annette Harte

Project Partner:                        Dr D McPolin (QUB)

Industrial Collaborators:    SIP Energy

Researchers:                               Dr Karol Sikora (Post-doc NUIG), Conan O’Ceallaigh (PhD NUIG),                                                                                            Caoimhe O’Neill (PhD QUB)

Summary: In order to increase the utilisation of Irish timber in construction, research was carried to establish the mechanical and physical properties of the current forest output. It was found that the mechanical and physical properties of Irish Sitka spruce have not changed significantly over that last 25 years. MOE was found to be the limiting factor for strength classification. To investigate the potential for new added-value timber construction products, novel engineered wood products for which Irish timber is suitable were developed. Two key areas were addressed: (i) Fibre-Reinforced Polymer reinforced timber and (ii) Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT).  The viability of using glued-in basalt fibre reinforced polymer rods as reinforcement for timber beams and connections between timber elements has been established. The long-term behaviour of such members has been characterised and moment connections were tested both for durability and for their suitability in an in-service application. Based on the findings of these experimental tests a guideline design procedures were established. Cross-laminated timber is a relatively new type of solid timber panel product with excellent load-carrying properties and is suitable for large-scale commercial buildings. In order to tap into the growing global demand for CLT, the potential use of Irish Sitka spruce in the production of CLT was investigated.  A niche product for commercialisation, a CLT modular floor system, was identified. The main benefit over other floor systems is the significant reduction in installation time, a reduced labour requirement, consequently financial saving.

IITU Project Website