Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Microwaving trees speeds up coffee table production

13.09.2004


A new process for drying wood could revolutionise the timber industry and lead to cheaper timber for customers.



The process combines a new microwave technology with more traditional drying techniques, such as solar drying. At present it can take a year or more to convert some Australian timber into top quality furniture or flooring. Much of this time is needed to dry the wood after it has been sawn.

The microwave technology, developed by a team in the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Wood Innovations, could reduce the time needed to dry wood to just months or less. “A brief burst of high powered microwave energy before drying drastically shortens solar timber-drying time without changing the visual appearance of the wood”, said Mr. Graham Brodie, one of the CRC team.


Quicker drying means increased processing rate and reduced costs for the timber industry. These potential savings could be passed onto customers, making wood cheaper and more consistent in quality.

The work has been in progress for several years and members of the CRC team are currently running pilot microwave conditioning and drying trials on commercial timbers. “We hope that this technology will become a commercial reality soon,” says Graham.

Wood contains millions of tiny cells, stacked together in long rows. These cells resemble little water filled straws. When green wood dries this water slowly leaks out of these straws. Because the walls of these wood cells are quite solid, the drying process can be very slow. It can take several months or even a year to dry some timbers properly.

“Intense microwaves raise the temperature of the wet wood so fast that the water inside the wood cells boils. The steam pressure blasts tiny holes through some of the wood cells to create better connections between the straws. These pathways make it much easier for moisture to escape. Most of these tiny pathways can only be seen under a microscope”, says Graham.

Earlier experiments used a modified domestic microwave oven and a home made solar drier to treat small pieces of wood. The CRC microwave team has graduated to commercial scale microwave generators which are many times more powerful to treat much larger pieces of wood.

A new microwave generator is under construction and has 300 times the power of a domestic microwave oven. The microwave treatment also makes the wood more permeable, making wood processing such as preservative treatment more rapid. “Microwave processing allows timber to be impregnated with resins or preservative to improve its strength, stability and durability,” says Professor Peter Vinden, CEO of CRC Wood Innovations. “Microwave technology enables acceleration of preservative treatment to a few minutes, and generates a more environmentally friendly product.”

Graham is presenting his work to the public and the media for the first time thanks to Fresh Science, a national competition that selects 16 of the best and brightest early-career scientists. The program is supported by the British Council Australia and the scientist that best meets the criteria of the program will go on a study tour of the UK where they will present their work.

Graham can be contacted at Melbourne University’s Dookie Campus by telephone on +61 3 5833 9273 or by email at grahamb@unimelb.edu.au

Niall Byrne | alfa
Further information:
http://www.freshscience.org

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>