Short Abstracts of Presentations

Global development of the Wood-based Panel Industry with special regard to the Russia-Ukraine-Conflict

Martin Brettenthaler, Chairman of EPF / CEO Swiss Krono Group

Current and future developments in the  furniture industry and collaboration with wood-based panels suppliers

Edi Snaidero, President of the European Furniture Industries Confederation EFIC

EFIC was founded in 2006 and now represents more than the 70% of the total turnover of the furniture industry in Europe, an industry that employs 1 million people in approximately 120000 enterprises mainly SMEs and generates 100 billion euro turnover on an annual basis.
Furniture is a complex product and the same applies to the furniture value chain. The furniture product range is very varied and the industry relies on many raw materials and semi-finished products with many suppliers involved. Wood and wood-based materials are key materials that are used in the industry, among many others.
The complexity of the value chain has been palpable during the recent crisis coronavirus pandemic and Russian aggression on Ukraine. Both brought uncertainty to the industry, shortages of key raw materials and semifinished products, including wood-based products such as panels, but also an increase in prices, exacerbated by the rampant energy crisis. EFIC, together with EPF and other wood based organisations are collaborating to find and propose mitigation measures to the EU institutions
In parallel, EFIC follows and works on a growing EU policy agenda on the circular economy. The furniture industry is well suited for a transition to a more circular economy and many best practices already exist in the furniture industry, which promotes circular design principles and business models based on the extension of the lifetime of products such as repair, refurbishment or remanufacturing. For that EFIC welcomes the Commission proposal on an Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation.
Finally, EFIC believes that collaboration among supply chain partners is key to addressing challenges of an increasingly complex geopolitical scenario and post-pandemic world, but also to real opportunities of a growing policy agenda such as on circularity.

Three ways we can mitigate climate change; how to grow this climate impact of the forest-based industries?

Jori Ringman, Confederation of European Paper Industries CEPI

Whilst reducing, like every other industry, our own CO2 emissions, wood-based materials have a unique possibility to contribute to climate change mitigation with our products. Consumers switching to renewable, wood-based materials will have a significant and immediate positive impact on climate.

First, forests act as sink and sequestrate and store carbon. This can be optimised with climate smart forest management. Like any forest management, it is largely financed by wood-using downstream industries and optimisation of sink, biodiversity and harvesting of wood can still be further optimised.

Second, wood-based materials and products store carbon that was sequestrated from the atmosphere. Increased recycling will prolong the time carbon is stored and all parts of forest-based industries can still further advance in circular economy. We also can be smarter in measuring and managing carbon storage in all kind of products.

Third, when additional consumption of wood-based products take place it is displacing fossil-intensive goods. Growing our market share, empowering consumers to choose for the better, is providing a significant substitution effect. Here, the authorities are far behind in measuring this important climate mitigation effect.

To advance in all three ways of contributing to climate mitigation, the forest-based industries have to become better in communicating. In this, we are supported by the consensus of the global community of climate change scientists who have been advocating optimising the three effects since their first report of the International Panel of Climate Change.

European Construction Industry in Change - Outlook for New Construction and Renovation until 2024

Martin Langen, B+L Marktdaten GmbH

The Corona crisis, the war in Ukraine and the Green Deal have had a major impact on the European construction industry. The lecture presents the developments in construction demand and the effects on the flow of goods and supplies in Europe.

Wood Market Analysis

Matthias Dieter, Thünen Institute of Foresty

Timber markets are facing severe challenges. Global demand is expected to continue to rise, climate change induced forest diebacks lead to volatile timber supply, environmental and climate change mitigation policies strive for increasing the forest carbon stocks at the expense of timber harvest and utilisation, requirements for timber imports, e. g. into the EU, are going to be expanded and traditional markets change as e. g. paper markets are going to dwindle while new products like dissolving pulp emerge. To successfully navigate through this changing timber markets, timber market analysis can play a crucial role. We will present past trends as well as model-based projections to show possible consequences of societal and political changes and to provide clues for necessary actions to be taken by policy and industry.

More sustainability, less raw materials - how the panel industry can cope with changing sourcing conditions and new regulations

Goran Schmidt, AFRY Management Consulting (Germany) GmbH

The wood-based panel and related industries have seen three years of disruptions and market dynamics. Major parts of the industry were able to cope or even take advantage of the fast changing markets, however, the upcoming years are expected to be challenging for all European manufacturing industries.  

AFRY expects panel demand to decline through 2022 and 2023 and hereafter reach 2019 levels. Panel prices experienced a strong growth since 2021, due to a strong construction sector and increased raw material costs. At the same time, several EU policies under “Fit for 55” related to forest utilisation could reduce the wood supply potential. While the European Green Deal and national initiatives promote the use of wood products (carbon sink), the EU biodiversity strategy (EUBDS) will reduce, to varying degrees, the sustainable, allowable cut in major European forest-based economies. Key objective of the EUBDS is to protect and restore areas, however, impact assessment is difficult due to political uncertainties.

Geopolitical factors and supply chain disruptions led to significant raw material price jumps in the last twelve months. Thus, the cost structure of panel producers is changing recently due to skyrocketing energy and raw material costs. For cost optimisation it is crucial to diversify raw materials and replace high-value assortments with low-value ones. Fillers and recycled wood in MDF reduce wood costs at reasonable effort, but most important, help to become more independent from single assortments. Alternative raw wood feedstocks, such as underutilised broad-leaved wood species, straw and could become more important in the future. In this changing and complex market situation, a forward-looking view of wood availability, cost composition and future price development is essential to turn uncertainties into opportunities.

Towards EU Green Deal and Circular Economy goals though an innovative research, industry and trade union partnership: the Wood4Bauhaus Alliance

Uwe Kies, InnovaWood

The New European Bauhaus (NEB), launched by the European Commission in 2021, is an interdisciplinary grassroots movement, where various initiatives, local communities, sectors, regional authorities, and citizens engage in a collective co-creation process to imagine and transform the built environment into beautiful, inclusive, sustainable model.

The Wood4Bauhaus Alliance is an official partner of the NEB, and was founded by a coalition of the main European wood sector umbrella organisations representing both research, industry and trade unions. It constitutes an advocacy group to support European policy development by engaging in open dialogue with the NEB and its stakeholders.

A main goal is to promote the role of wood as an innovative, versatile, nature-based building material that can store carbon for decades up to centuries, and can also be reused, remanufactured and recycled to further prolong the benefits for the climate.

The Alliance has established an open platform and initiates conversations, policy recommendations and dissemination of good practices and joint projects, to highlight the role of wood industries, wood science and innovation as integral actors and drivers in the Circular Economy and the Green and digital transformation. The main goal is to inspire as many actors as possible, and to advance and upscale solutions in the NEB with nature-based materials, innovative building systems and smart solutions for the benefit of European citizens.

Sustainable Chemistry For A Sustainable Industry

David Türp, BASF SE

Wood is a renewable and CO2-binding material with a growing demand in a number of applications, most importantly in construction and furniture. However, in most cases the utilization of wood also requires the use of suitable glues, which by themselves have an impact on

  • Emissions
  • Health & Safety
  • Use of Fossil Feedstocks

Due to the huge global quantities used by the wood working industry, glues also have a significant impact on the sustainability of the industry as a whole.

BASF has a long tradition in offering glues to the wood-based panels industry and offers a broad portfolio of glues for different applications in all emission classes. In accordance with BASFs strategy and objective "We create chemistry for a sustainable future", we are committed to use our expertise in chemistry and become the preferred partner in the challenging transition from glues with emission based on fossil resources to glues with reduced or zero emission based on renewable resources. This presentation is meant to provide an overview on BASFs current activities, innovations, and offerings for more sustainable glues.

Chemistry in Wood-based panels: actual situation, achievements, and challenges

Manfred Dunky, Xylo Technologies AG

"Chemistry" is everywhere in wood and wood-based panels. Wood itself contains volatile organic chemicals, which can emit during the use of wood, depending on wood species and storage time after felling. Especially terpenes make up the pleasant smell of fresh wood.

Adhesives are key parameters in wood-based panels; no adhesive – no wood-based panels. The adhesive industry works together with the wood-based panel industry finding optimal bonding solutions with suitable performance of the panels, at low addition of adhesives, and minimizing emission out of the panels.

Despite the strong green approach, the number of bio-based adhesives is still very low, also based on the ethical discussion using natural products, such as proteins and carbohydrates, preferably as food and not as technical raw materials. A new approach will be the generation of suitable chemicals from biomass and organic waste via bio-refineries as well as green hydrogen, maintaining the well-known synthesis ways for established adhesives.

Hydrophobic agents in the wood-based panel industry - wax dispersions as hydrophobic agents

Fabian Meinker, Hywax GmbH

The supply of raw materials for the wood-based panel industry in Central Europe will change significantly in the coming decades. The use of hardwood, old and recycled wood as well as calamity wood, which is increasingly occurring as a result of climate change, will change the raw timber portfolio of MDF/HDF, chipboard and OSB producers significantly. In the wood-based panel industry, the wood species composition and its fluctuations have a significant influence on the physical properties of the qualities produced.

In addition to the composition of the wood species, the production parameters and the various binders play an important role in the production process of the individual wood-based materials. The tried and tested binders often contain formaldehyde. Due to the change in the test methodology at the turn of the year 2019/20 in the Chemicals Prohibition Ordinance from EN 717-1 to EN 16516, the requirements for the limit values ​​to be observed are tightened. In order to meet the new regulations, the binders are changing in their effect and it is becoming more difficult to maintain the essential physical quality properties.

Transverse tensile strength, flexural strength, flexural modulus of elasticity and thickness swelling/ water absorption are the main characteristics of wood-based materials. In order to achieve the standard values ​​for thickness swelling, wax dispersions are used in the Central European wood-based panel industry. The hydrophobic agents are classified by the manufacturers as chemical additives and play a subordinate role in chemical/ physical considerations compared to the binders. However, experience has shown that the properties of the wax dispersions have a not inconsiderable influence on the quality properties of the wood-based materials.

Changing proportions of deciduous and coniferous wood as well as tree species compositions lead to strong fluctuations in thickness swelling. In addition to the uncertainties of the wood species distribution and changing binding agent systems, research into various hydrophobic agents should bring better insights into their mode of action and optimize their use.

Technical wax dispersions can be a versatile and complex system. Softened and desalinated water is used as a carrier and for handling the dispersions. Depending on the application and product type, different waxes or wax blends are dispersed. In addition to waxes derived from mineral oil, montane wax, synthetic waxes, alpha-olefins, oils or fats can serve as raw materials.

The mineral oil-derived waxes/ slack waxes have the largest share as hydrophobic agents in the entire wood-based panel market. There will be a major change in the industry in the coming years in the area of ​​mineral oil-derived slack waxes. The availability of these feedstocks will decrease significantly due to the transition from Group I and Group II refineries to more modern refineries. As the wood-based panel industry is one of the largest consumers of slack wax, this will have a major impact on this industry. The individual components of dispersions can be prepared in different ways and they can be given a wide variety of properties. Oil content, melting point and flash point, carbon chain length distribution, distribution of n-alkanes and iso-alkanes are the most important features.

The presentation will essentially deal with synthetic alternatives to mineral oil-based waxes. The advantages for the mechanical properties of the wood-based materials are worked out and the security of supply for the industry is explained. In addition, we are currently working on a new manufacturing process for our emulsions, which can bring further advantages in terms of the quality of our products.

Evaluating chain and belt oil lubricants; the relevance of test data from lab to field

Emma Pates, Metalube

The ever-growing demand in the wood panel press industry is the desire for maximum production output without compromising product quality or cleanliness. This demand has led to continuous presses being engineered to become faster and subsequently hotter, which has put a greater strain on the specialist lubricants required to optimise their operation.

The effect of increased temperature and lubricant chemistry on the rate of oxidation will be a key topic in this study with respect to conventional high temperature chain and belt oils used currently within the continuous wood panel press industry. Thermal analysis techniques will be used to measure and compare the onset of oxidation, which is an excellent indication of oxidation resistance. Long term heating studies to mimic oil aging at various temperatures between 200 and 250 oC will also be discussed to demonstrate impact on viscosity and appearance, as well as the probability to form deposits/varnish in use. Industry advancements in lubricant performance will also be reviewed.

New technology in panel board production: Low-temperature belt dryer for PB or OSB drying

Yves-Marc Schade, Stela Laxhuber

Stela Laxhuber GmbH, located in Massing, Bavaria, is an international operating company specialized in low-temperature belt drying technology. Continuous developments and customized optimization in various applications, facilitate to be called technology leader in expanding markets as panel board industries. During the company history 100 years, more than 4,500 drying plants have been delivered and commissioned to more than 60 countries. Whether in timber, pellet, pulp and paper industry, in cement industry, as well as the water management, the feed or pet food industry or in waste disposal industry – stela’s low-temperature belt dryers are applications in a wide range of industrial processes.

One of the greatest benefits using high efficiency belt dryers reflects by using waste heat or other low-temperature sources. Lowest temperatures from 30°C can be used reasonably in the belt dryer. Usual heat transfer media are e.g. hot water of cogeneration plant (CHP, ORC) or flue gas condensation, low-pressure steam or thermic oil. Long standing state of the art in the energy sector - now demanding in the panel board industry. Low-temperature belt drying systems for pre- and final drying of fibres, chips and OSB strands in panel board productions. Based on branch experiences stela has been working intensively on waste wood drying for many years, customers can now benefit from stela know-how through their drying systems: Belt dryers score points in having an indirect heating and a low temperature process, with a specific heat demand of 0,90 – 1,10 MW/to water evaporation and a specific electrical demand of 20 – 30 kW/to water evaporation, reduced fire and explosion risk, long maintenance cycles, efficient consumption figures, a highest level of drying quality, and the fully automatic controllability of the drying process. Belt dryers are characterized by lowest dust and VOC emission values, by low thermal and electrical consumption through optimally synchronized components. Characteristic features of stela dryer lines are e.g. closed construction, easily accessible through wide inspection doors, enabling outdoor installation at temperatures down to -40°C, insulated dryer body, covering individual adaptations according to customer requirements by designing various belt widths and length. The high safety and emissions standards are ensured by indirect drying system and low specific electrical consumption. The dust emission of stela belt dryers can be kept beneath 10mg/Nm3 without the installation of additional filters. Subsequent minimized product warming by lowest process temperatures neither wet electrostatic filters (WESP) nor thermal post- combustion (RTO) are needed to meet stringent EU emission limits.

Application of Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) and Industrial Heat Pump for energy efficiency and CO2 reduction in WBP industry

Allessandro Guercio, Tuboden Spa

This paper features the application of Organic Rankine Cycle Turbogenerators (ORC) and Industrial Heat Pump technologies in WBP industry.

Particleboard (PB), OSB and MDF production are energy demanding processes, due to high demand of heat for drying and pressing as well as electric power. PB and OSB have similar energy demand, wood particles for PB or wood strands for OSB are dried then pressed in thermal oil heated presses. MDF production needs heat in form of saturated steam to reduce wood chips in wood fibers, the wood fibers are then dried so pressed in thermal oil heated presses. Electric power is needed in all the phases of the process.

Biomass-fired Combined Heat and Power ORC systems can give a strong contribution in reducing the primary energy demand and CO2 emissions thanks to a local generation of renewable electric power, using residual waste wood. On the other side, Industrial Heat Pumps can reduce heat demand for drying, coupled with ORC or as an alternative.

A critical review of the TVOC value

Tunga Salthammer, Fraunhofer WKI

TVOC (total volatile organic compounds) has been used as a sum parameter in indoor air sciences for over 40 years. To understand the manifold definitions and applications of TVOC, a detailed description of TVOC measurement and calculation methods is provided, followed by a critical evaluation of the various TVOC values. The aim is to give a deeper understanding of TVOC in order to demonstrate that this parameter is hardly suitable for the assessment of indoor air quality and building product emissions. Moreover, a clear distinction must be made to other sum parameters, measured with diverse techniques, the signals of which are all given under the term TVOC. It was recognized early and has since been outlined repeatedly that TVOC is not a toxicologically based parameter. Nevertheless, references to health-related issues or indoor odor perception are repeatedly made, which has led to controversial discussions about the proper and improper use of TVOC.

How Laser Spectroscopy Can Make an Innovative Contribution to Optimizing HCHO Emission Testing in Factory Production Control

Manuel Fleisch, Fagus-GreCon

Chamber test methods are widely used in the wood-based panel industry for the monitoring of product formaldehyde emission. For most of these methods, the released formaldehyde is absorbed in water and later analyzed by wet chemistry. This approach has proven to be very precise and selective, but also time-consuming. Additionally, the wet chemistry-based analysis requires highly specialized personnel in the plant laboratories.

Using the gas analysis method (ISO 12460-3) as an example, this presentation will show how infrared laser absorption spectroscopy (LAS) can significantly simplify existing emission testing methods. At the same time, the high sensitivity of modern LAS gas analyzers also enables completely new testing options. By lowering the test temperature, for example, it is possible to reduce the test time for the gas analysis method from the previous 4 hours to just 15 minutes. These new developments are now also considered in a series of planned changes of the ISO standard ISO 12460 Parts 1, 2 and 3. This presentation is intended to provide a compact insight into the new application possibilities of laser spectroscopy and the current standardization work in the field of the ISO 12460 series.

WKI calculation model 2.0 - Formaldehyde emission of particleboards

Bettina Meyer, Fraunhofer WKI

In order to review and further development of calculation formulas known to date published by I. Andersen et. al. and L. Mehlhorn, a project was initiated 2012 with the participation of the iVTH, Fraunhofer WKI QA, various wood-based material producers and associations. In 2014, the project results were published in the journal Holztechnologie [Holztechnologie 55 (2014) 6: "Formaldehyde emissions from particleboard: Update of the WKI calculation model" (Bettina Meyer, Dieter Greubel, Harald Schwab, Rainer Marutzky)].

The formulas for the conversion of a formaldehyde value determined by using the test result of the chamber method EN 717-1 to any other chamber parameters, which were developed within the Fraunhofer WKI project in 2014, were reviewed by this new project in 2020/2021. The project concentrated again on particleboards, but with formaldehyde emission values in the E1 range and much lower. Another focus was the impact of variation of the temperature and in particular on testing at lower temperatures than 23°C.

In addition, long-term tests of up to 14 months were carried out to demonstrate the ageing behavior of the ‘modified’ wood-based materials in the low emission range of today's production. This was particularly important for another target of this project: The review of the reliability of the procedure of the determination of the formaldehyde steady-state concentration, as defined in EN 717-1.

National and European Requirements for VOC Emissions from Construction Products: Current State of Art for Wood-based Panels

Rainer Marutzky

At first, the presentation briefly reminds the basics for a European VOC regulation system elaborated in European collaborative action projects. A short overview of the resulting VOC regulations in some European countries will follow with respect to the impact on wood-based materials. For legal systems, evaluation criteria are presented, similarities and differences are identified. Their relevance is commented with reference to hazard prevention. The aspect of unreasonableness of some VOC emission criteria is also addressed. Recommendations for action by manufacturers of wood-based panels are provided. They take into account both the rulings of the German administrative courts and the requirements of the use of the materials in the various areas of application. Finally, an attempt is made to derive a realistic proposal for a European VOC system.

3 Doctoral Theses

Additive manufacturing with wood by Individual Layer Fabrication – ILF –

Carsten Aßhoff, Fraunhofer WKI

The aim is to develop a new additive manufacture process ‘individual layer fabrication (ILF)’ with wood. The individual process steps consisting of the scattering of wood chips, application of adhesive with a valve and subsequent mechanical pressing with and without heat input must be developed individually and coordinated with each other. On the material side, the need for research focuses on the appropriate selection of wood chips in terms of morphology. They must be long enough to produce sufficient strength. On the other hand, wood chips that are too long reduce contour accuracy. The adhesive must be selected accordingly so that the viscosity and surface tension are as low as possible. These properties should enable the adhesive applied onto the wood chips from above to penetrate into deeper layers. Due to the better flow behavior, the local adhesive content can be reduced. However, this must work in a controlled manner to maintain contour accuracy. To ensure the required strength and compatibility of the adhesive to the wood chips, the initial focus is on the use of already established adhesives from the wood-based materials industry.

Bridging wood technology and forest management – A study on the quality of softwood products from differently managed forest stands

Tobias Krenn, Fraunhofer WKI

The doctoral thesis deals with the quality of wood-based materials from differently managed coniferous stands of the tree species Douglas fir and spruce. The materials examined were laminated veneer, sawn timber and glued laminated timber. The sawn timber was visually sorted before mechanical testing or further processing in order to characterise the stands. The determined bending strengths were firstly modelled using the visual sorting criteria. In addition, the strengths were modelled using crown scan data recorded by project partners. In this way, an attempt was made to build a bridge between silviculture and the requirements for high-quality further processing.
For the tree species spruce, the data recording has been completed. The work package on Douglas fir is just being started. 

Long-term durability and fire performance of CFRP-reinforced timber

Christoph Pöhler, Fraunhofer WKI

Wood, as an abundant and renewable resource, has proven its versatility as a building material for centuries. Nevertheless, today's construction market is largely dominated by concrete and steel due to increasing span and strength requirements. The debatable sustainability of these materials is meeting with growing awareness, raising the question of how wood structures can be adapted to meet today's needs. Carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) as reinforcements for wood allow for high strength and stiffness gains at low additional weight. However, the long-term durability of such CFRP-wood composites as well as their fire behavior are yet to be fully investigated and therefore present the focus of this research.

The State-of-the-art of Computer Simulations in the Wood-based Panel Industry

Heiko Thömen, Wood Composite Simulations GmbH

Although mathematical models to describe the wood-based panel process have been introduced for several years, we are still far from fully exploiting their potential. In this presentation, an overview of the different types of models is given.

Above, the new model-based simulation software Virtual Hot Press (VHP 2.0) is presented, and some industrial applications are described. The model is capable to simulate the formation of the cross-sectional density profile, the temperature and moisture conditions during pressing in different mat layers, the build-up of gas pressure inside the mat, and the development of the mechanical properties. The software may be used for training of technologists and operators, for process analysis and optimization, and for product development.

3 new systems for process monitoring in wood-based materials production using continuous spectroscopic inline measurement

Peter Nilges, APOS GmbH

Various process analysis methods for quality monitoring and process optimization exist along the production process for the manufacture of wood-based materials and for monitoring the manufacture of floors, furniture panels, wall panels or worktops. In addition to established systems such as continuous water content measurement to control a drying process or online nitrogen determination to optimize the gluing process, 3 new applications have been recently developed. It is now possible to analyze the glue directly (GlueNIR - measurement of molar ratio, solids content, viscosity) and monitoring of important process parameters for the production of floors (TABERonline - measurement of abrasion resistance) and furniture panels (CureKT - measurement of degree of curing).

The three new applications and the potential for process optimization and cost savings are presented. The measuring systems are based on the principle of optical spectroscopy.

Combination of convection and microwave drying for higher energy efficiency in cement-bonded particleboard (CBPB) production

Martin Direske, IHD Institut für Holztechnologie Dresden gGmbH

With drying of CBPB by combining hot-air and microwave (MW), the target moisture can be achieved within clearly shorter time as compared to the sole use of only one technology.

The use of radiation drying has an enormous ecological potential through the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. With the current electricity mix in Germany, the CO2 emission of 366 g/kWh is higher than that of natural gas with 228 g/kWh. Due to the significantly lower electrical energy demand when using MW dryers, 2.5 times of the GHG emissions can be saved compared to hot-air drying. In the future, this potential will increase due to the increase in the share of renewable energies in the electricity mix.

Since no differences in the mechanical and physical board properties between the new and the established drying technology were observed, it is possible to dry CBPB by keeping the quality standards with clearly higher drying rate an lower energy consumption.

Towards intelligent and sovereign use of data – Optimising wood-based panel production via data exchange along the supply chain

Martin Benfer, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Building on top of the developing European Gaia-X infrastructure the German-Austrian lighthouse project champI4.0ns seeks to establish methods and tools to use production-relevant data effectively and efficiently along the supply chain while maintaining data sovereignty. The project focuses on the wood industry as it is a prime example of an industry characterized by raw materials with variable properties and global supply chains with a high degree of heterogeneity in terms of company sizes and digital maturity levels.

One of the use cases of champI4.0ns concerns wood-based panel production and addresses a range of issues from traceability of wood along the supply chain to model-based process control and quality data exchange. For this purpose, production quality metrics are recorded directly during the processing and at different suppliers. These are then used to automatically improve the production quality using model-based process control. In conjunction with pattern-based traceability of the panels quality metrics can be shared with customers to improve their yields.