The target is 3-D formable, resource efficient, lightweight, high performance composites, based on wood, suitable for advanced engineering structures.
Innovative technologies for 3-D formable, resource efficient, lightweight high-performance composites based on wood
Mankind is facing enormous societal challenges with scarcity of raw materials, increasing waste and climate change due to the growing world population and unsustainable production and consumption patterns. Forests are extremely important for developing a more sustainable and resource-efficient circular bioeconomy, both as carbon sinks and as a renewable material resource. By developing innovative technologies, well-managed forest resources could be used even more creatively and provide new innovative and sustainable solutions to various industrial sectors.
Wood in the form of sawdust and pulp fibers is often used as a reinforcement of composites, with the largest volumes being decking materials. Such materials cannot compete with high performance lightweight materials such as aluminum, due to lower mechanical properties. In addition, physical properties such as fire and moisture resistance limit their applications. The strongest and stiffest part of wood, nanocellulose, should theoretically be a better reinforcement than sawdust and pulp fibers. Unfortunately, the properties of nanocellulose are also very difficult to utilize in composites. Superior performance of wood-based composites is hard to achieve by using conventional composite processing concepts, especially when environmental impact must be considered. The HIPWOOD project was initiated with the aim of breaking through these technical barriers for wood-based composites. Within this project, 3-D formable, resource efficient, lightweight high-performance composites based on wood, suitable for advanced engineering applications with low carbon footprint is developed using new processing technology. Furthermore, a unique technique is developed to upgrade the mechanical and physical properties of old wood and wood scraps.
Concrete project results for proof-of-concept
A challenge-driven innovation project step 1 (Utmaningsdriven innovation – Steg 1 Initiering 2019 (vår)) is financed by VINNOVA to carry out proof-of-concept testing of HIPWOOD. The project has achieved impressive properties, mechanical and physical, of conceptual HIPWOOD from both fresh and old wood. Comparisons of tested properties with flax/epoxy and glass/epoxy composites as well as some metal alloys show that HIPWOOD can become a competitive high-performance lightweight material:
- HIPWOOD's stiffness to density ratio is almost 107% higher than the flax/epoxy composites, 35% higher than the glass/epoxy composites and 15% higher than the steel, aluminum and titanium alloys.
- HIPWOOD's strength to density ratio is almost 73% higher than the flax/epoxy composites, 74% higher than the steel, 12% higher than the aluminum and the same as the titanium alloy.
- Fire testing on HIPWOOD tiles, according to slightly modified Volvo STD 104-0001, showed that the fire extinguished within 1 to 2 seconds after the tiles were exposed to an open flame for 10 seconds. In other studies (e.g. EUREKA project E!4496 POLYWALL), even wood plastic composites with enhanced fire resistance through the addition of nanoclay, the fire did not stop until the composite tiles were burned up.
Next step to move forward
Although proof-of-concept has been achieved, development is only in its infancy. In the project we have identified how the mechanical and physical properties of HIPWOOD and the manufacturing technology can be improved. Furthermore, great potential of HIPWOOD to be used in a wide range of industrial applications was discussed. These applications could include structures in construction with highly required water resistance and flame retardancy; lightweight structural parts in transportation including automotive, trucks, airplanes and ships with high crash resistance and surface hardness in addition to flame retardancy; as well as sport goods and equipment, such as ski boards. The entire consortium is very enthusiastic about moving forward to lift the concept for scalable processing and products with a solid proof of superior durability for HIPWOOD including greenhouse gas emissions and long-term effects compared to metallic, mineral and fossil-based counterparts.
500 000 SEK
Sveaskog, Podcomp, Quintus Technologies