Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Concrete from wood


Researchers from the National Research Programme "Resource Wood" have developed a type of concrete that largely consists of wood. The building material offers the construction industry new possibilities and is based in large part on renewable resources.

Houses can be made of wood, as they were in the past – or of concrete, as they are today. To build for tomorrow, the two building methods are being combined: these hybrid structures, which contain both wood and concrete elements, are becoming increasingly popular in contemporary architecture.

Researchers from the National Research Programme "Resource Wood" have developed a type of concrete that largely consists of wood. The building material offers the construction industry new possibilities and is based in large part on renewable resources.

In the context of the National Resource Programme "Resource Wood" (NRP 66), Swiss researchers have now developed an even more radical approach to combining wood and concrete: they are fabricating a load-bearing concrete which itself consists largely of wood. In many blends, the volume fraction of the wood is over 50 percent.

Cement-bonded wood products have been around for more than a hundred years. Yet previously they were used only for non-load-bearing purposes, such as insulation. Daia Zwicky, head of the Institute for Building and Environmental Technologies at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, wondered whether it wasn't time for a more ambitious use of wood-based concrete.

Floating concrete

Together with his team, Zwicky experimented with the content and granularity of the wood as well as diverse additives and subsequently subjected the various blends to rigorous tests. The main difference from classical concrete is that the gravel and sand content is replaced with finely ground wood. In other words, sawdust rather than small stones is mixed in with the cement. Thanks to the high wood content, the new building materials show good flame retardance and act as thermal insulation.

"They weigh at most half of what normal concrete weighs – the lightest of them even float!" says Zwicky. Moreover, as the materials are based largely on renewable resources, after dismantling they can be reused as a source of heat and electricity. The wood content can be burnt in waste incineration, although for everyday use it conforms to fire protection standards.

Initial 1:1 stress tests show that the new wood-based concrete is also suitable for slab and wall elements and can provide a load-bearing function in construction. The process is also suited to prefabricated units. In this context, in particular, the Fribourg group would like to deepen their expertise through a broader range of tests. The researchers want to find out which wood-concrete composite is best for which applications, and how it can be produced efficiently.

"It will take several years before we see the first buildings in which lightweight concrete containing wood plays an integral role in the construction," says Zwicky. "The level of knowledge required for widespread application is still too limited."

Resource Wood (NRP 66)

In collaboration with industry, forest owners and authorities, the National Research Programme "Resource Wood" (NFP 66) aims to generate scientific insights and practical solutions to optimize the exploitation and use of wood in Switzerland. The overall final recommendations of NRP 66 will be published in four topical summary reports at the end of 2017. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) was commissioned by the Federal Council to run the programme.

National Research Programme (NRP 66)


Daia Zwicky
Institut für Bau- und Umwelttechnologien iTEC
HES-SO Hochschule für Technik und Architektur Fribourg
CH-1705 Fribourg
Tel. +41 26 429 69 50


M. Maeder and D. Zwicky: Multi-functional features of pourable wood-cement compounds – mechanical, building-physical, economic and ecological performance. World Conference on Timber Engineering, At Vienna, Austria (August 2016).

M. Eymard and D. Zwicky: Slab elements made of timber and wood-cement compounds – structural and other performances. 3rd International Conference on Structures and Architecture, Guimarães (July 2016).

D. Zwicky and N. Macchi: Wall elements made of timber and wood-cement compounds – building-physical properties and structural performance. 3rd International Conference on Structures and Architecture, Guimarães (July 2016).

Weitere Informationen: Press release National Research Programme (NRP 66) NRP 66 project "Wood and wood-based concrete" Download image (JPG, 4.3 MB)

Media Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities
24.01.2018 | National Science Foundation

nachricht Magnetic liquids improve energy efficiency of buildings
16.01.2018 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>