A construction-grade cross-laminated timber panel has been developed by Washington State University (WSU) and the Composites Recycling Technology Center and is on display in Portland, Oregon.
The team believes in thermally modified cross laminated timber as a building material as it embodies carbon and is sustainable in general. However, while the thermal modification process reduces the chance of the wood decaying, shrinking and swelling, and makes it more air-tight, the treatment compromises its strength.
The researchers say adding recycled carbon fibre will help in this respect as it strengthens the CLT; plus, it only costs a tenth of the virgin fibre.
The plan now is to use this material to create military housing, and the Port of Port Angeles has provided a seed grant for a project that aims to build a CLT-carbon fibre manufacturing facility on the Olympic Peninsula.
Washington has encouraged the growing use of wood-based construction in the state, with its building code permitting mass timber buildings as high as 18 storeys; and proponents will say it is ideal for these high structures given the relative lightness of wood compared to other traditional building materials.
"Now, suddenly, timber is an option for mid‑rise buildings," says Don Bender, lead investigator for WSU. "We have the potential to create not just new jobs but an entire new industry."