Quick Six - May

Forest owners vote to continue Forest Growers Levy

New Zealand forest owners have overwhelmingly voted to continue the Commodity Levies Act order for Harvested Wood Materials for another six years. The vote was 89.1% of owners in favour and 99.0% by area in favour. Both the voting majorities were higher this time than in the inaugural levy vote in 2013 where 86.3% were in favour of the levy.  READ MORE

ANZ Commodity Price Index

The ANZ commodity price index increased 2.5% in April and is up 2.1% on the same period last year. The forestry price index eased 0.7% month on month.  READ MORE

Urban trees 'live fast, die young' compared to those in rural forests

In many cities around the world the populations are embarking on tree planting projects to improve urban environments, increase urban sustainability and combat  the environmental impacts of expansive urbanization. They lower wind speed and thus energy consumption. By reducing pollution and heat, they make cities more liveable. However, our understanding of street-tree ecosystem dynamics is limited, and our knowledge of tree growth and function based on rural forests may not apply well to urban ecosystems. Early indication is that some urban trees grow four times faster than their rural counterparts but experience twice the mortality rates.  READ MORE

Rising sea levels kills coastal forest affecting bird communities

When saltwater inundates coastal forests as sea levels rise, it kills salt-sensitive trees, leaving "ghost forests" of bare snags behind. A new study from North Carolina State University explores how changes in vegetation affect coastal bird species. When saltwater kills standing trees, forests are replaced by more salt-tolerant shrubs and grasses, which shifts vegetation closer to the ground and creates habitat for birds that prefer the understory rather than the forest canopy.  READ MORE


Robots build high-tech home

ETH Zürich’s high-tech show home has just opened its doors. The three-story DFAB HOUSE has been built on the NEST modular building platform, an Empa– and Eawag–led site of cutting-edge research and experimentation in architecture, engineering, and construction located in Dübendorf, Switzerland. 

The 2,150-square-foot house, a collaboration with university researchers and industry leaders, is designed to showcase robotics, 3-D printing, computational modeling, and other technologies and grapple with the interconnected issues of ecology, economy, and architecture. 

One of the central innovations is using robots that build onsite, rather than create prefabricated pieces in a factory. This In Situ Fabricator (IF) technology, an autonomous “context-aware mobile construction robot,” helps minimize waste and maximize safety during the construction process. 

To generate concrete geometries not permitted by conventional construction techniques, such as curvilinear shapes that minimize material use, researchers devised a Mesh Mould technology that was built with the aid of vision system–equipped robots. In the DFAB HOUSE, the Mesh Mould is realized as a 39-foot wall, a main load-bearing component of the house, which is able to carry around 100 tons. Despite its complexity—it has 335 layers with over 20,000 welding points—the robot took just 125 hours to construct the mesh. 

Cantilevered over the Mesh Mould is the so-called Smart Slab, a 3-D printed concrete formwork that supports the timber structure above. Many of the concrete forms in the home are built with what the researchers are calling Smart Dynamic Casting, an automated prefabrication technology. 

Robotic prefabrication is also used to make the Spatial Timber Assemblies that comprise the upper two levels of the home. The timber structure was devised as part of a collaboration between the university, Gramazio Kohler Research, and ERNE AG Holzbau, who used computational design to generate timber arrangements to fit into the larger structure. The timber assemblies also permit the creation of stiff structures that don’t require additional reinforcement. 

Source: Friday Offcuts

Helmet made from wood

Cellufoam™ is a new and unique material made of nanocellulose produced from wood pulp and is therefore both renewable and biodegradable. The properties of Cellufoam™ are suitable for use in e.g. lightweight construction, pkaging materials and absorbent products. The idea of the foam comes from a research group within the Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC) and has been further developed by Cellutech. "The collaboration with Cellutech makes it possible to commercialize the new materials we develop within WWSC and bring them closer to the market" - Lars Wågberg, Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology.

The bicycle helmet is the first example of how Cellufoam™ can be used.  READ MORE