Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Wood Material Technology

The Wood Material Technology group, headed by Professor Mark Hughes, provides teaching and conducts research in the area of wood technology. The group has strong links with the wood processing industry in Finland and abroad as well as having strong collaborations with other research groups both nationally and internationally.
CHEM_Bio_Wood material
CHEM_Bio_Wood material technology_trees

 

Wood is a truly renewable material that, unlike many other materials, requires little energy to convert it into functional products. Synthesised from sunlight and carbon dioxide, trees sequester atmospheric CO2 during growth and when converted to wood products, the carbon is stored away until the “trapped” carbon is released by burning or natural biodegradation. This means that long-lasting wooden structures and artefacts can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and make a positive contribution to combating Climate Change. Wood has many other attributes too. In addition to being an excellent structural material it can act as moisture buffer, helping to control the interior environment of buildings. It is also a good thermal and sound insulator as well as visually appealing. Wood also forms the basis of a range of wood-composite products that can be extremely resource efficient and its properties can be modified to provide new functionality. Finally, unlike money, wood really does grow on trees!

Wood chips photo by Eeva Suorlahti

 

We are researching the resource efficient use of wood in buildings, applying circular economy principles, such as cascading, to maximize the climate change mitigation potential of wood in construction. To do this we are using various quantitative and qualitative research methods, coupled with materials flow analyses and life cycle analyses. Our aim is to contribute new knowledge that will help construction become more sustainable, considering the whole forest value chain. Moreover, we are investigating how wood can be used to create more energy-efficient, healthy and comfortable indoor environments that have a restorative effect on occupants.  We are also researching the development of new biobased composite materials, focusing on structure-property relationships, using a wide variety of experimental techniques.

Research themes:

Current research falls under three broad categories:

  1.  The use of wood in climate smart construction
  2. Wood in comfortable and healthy buildings
  3. Biocomposite materials

Under the categories of the use of wood in climate-smart construction and healthy buildings, research themes include:

 

Wood as a means to mitigate climate change:

Forestry and wood industry have a role in mitigating climate change. We look into the wood supply chain and the potential of wood products as carbon storage, collaborating with the wood processing industry in Finland.

Wood as a sustainable building material:

The sustainability assessment of buildings includes environmental, economical and social aspects. We assess the contribution of wood materials in sustainable buildings through a life cycle approach.

Wood as a cascading product:

To promote a sustainable use of wood products is important to increase recirculation of wood materials. We analyse the environmental impacts of different wood cascading options: energy recovery, recycling and reuse.

Wood as a buffering material for indoor air quality and thermal comfort:

Wood materials are increasingly used in the built environment, besides they can contribute to the well-being of users in buildings. We investigate the contribution of wooden products in the indoor air quality and thermal comfort of buildings.

Ongoing research projects:

 

 

GoWood!

Climate-KIC funded ‘pathfinder’ project aiming to scope the potential of digital technologies (e.g. DLT) in carbon accounting as a basis for developing incentive mechanisms for wood construction.

Project duration: 12 months

InFutUReWood

Forest Value ERA.net (YM) project investigating wood cascading and design for disassembly of wood constructions at EU level.

Project duration: 36 months

https://www.infuturewood.info

https://www.hankeportaali.fi/hankkeet/186-infuturewood-innovative-design-for-the-future-–-use-and-reuse-of-wood-(building)-components

REWood II

Climate-KIC funded ‘pathfinder’ project to prepare preliminary designs for one or more buildings to be designed to DfD principles.

Project duration: 12 months

Past projects:

Project map
Map of the earlier and ongoing research projects.

For further information, please contact Professor Mark Hughes or any of the staff.

Fibre and Polymer Engineering major

Teaching:

Teaching in wood science and technology now forms part of the Fiber and Polymer Engineering major under the Master's Program in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering. It is continually being developed to ensure that students are given the most up-to-date education in this rapidly evolving field. As such, the teaching carried out very much reflects the research activities of the group. As part of Aalto Wood – a collaboration between the departments of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Forest Products Technology - we contribute to the multi-disciplinary education of students of architecture, civil and structural engineering, believing that there is huge potential for wood to contribute to a more sustainable future.

CHEM_prof Mark Hughes

Wood can contribute to the fight against climate heating. Come and help us explore how we can use wood for a sustainable future!

Prof. Mark Huhges, head of the research group
Wood Material Technology team

Related content:

Towards sustainable construction

Aalto Sustainability Talks research seminar on sustainable construction and SDG 9.

Aalto Sustainability Talks colourful circle-logo, turquoise background: Towards sustainable construction, 12.3.2021/9:00-10:15 Online-webinar..

Wood Wonders exhibition showcases climate-friendly building concepts

If all the buildings constructed in Finland each year were made of wood, the amount of wood needed for their construction would grow back in ten hours.

Wood Wonders exhibition at Helsinki airport. Photo: Anne Kinnunen

Latest publications:

The physicochemical properties of cellulose surfaces modified with (depolymerised) suberin and suberin fatty acid

Berhane Handiso, Juan José Valle-Delgado, Leena Sisko Johansson, Mark Hughes 2021 Industrial Crops and Products

Effect of single-fiber properties and fiber volume fraction on the mechanical properties of Ioncell fiber composites

Alp Karakoc, Mindaugas Bulota, Michael Hummel, Simona Sriubaitė, Mark Hughes, Herbert Sixta, Jouni Paltakari 2021 JOURNAL OF REINFORCED PLASTICS AND COMPOSITES

Prolonging life cycles of construction materials and combating climate change by cascading : The case of reusing timber in Finland

Yishu Niu, Kaarle Rasi, Mark Hughes, Minna Halme, Gerhard Fink 2021 Resources, Conservation and Recycling

Investigating the tactile warmth of untreated and modified wood surfaces by measuring cold sensitivity in paired-comparison experiments

Shiv Raj Bhatta, Katja Vahtikari, Mark Hughes, Marketta Kyttä 2020 International Wood Products Journal

The fiber-matrix interface in Ioncell cellulose fiber composites and its implications for the mechanical performance

Mindaugas Bulota, Simona Sriubaite, Anne Michud, Kaarlo Nieminen, Mark Hughes, Herbert Sixta, Michael Hummel 2020 Journal of Applied Polymer Science

Cascading Potential for Recovered Wood from Heavy Timber Frame Typologies in Pre-Modern Dwelling Buildings in Madrid

Marina de Arana-Fernández, Daniel Liana, Bahareh Nasiri, Guillermo Íñiguez-González 2020 Proceedings of the 2020 Society of Wood Science and Technology International Convention

Improvement of interfacial interaction in impregnated wood via grafting methyl methacrylate onto wood cell walls

Youming Dong, Michael Altgen, Mikko Mäkelä, Lauri Rautkari, Mark Hughes, Jianzhang Li, Shifeng Zhang 2020 Holzforschung

Thermal properties enhancement of poplar wood by substituting poly(furfuryl alcohol) for the matrix

Youming Dong, Erni Ma, Jianzhang Li, Shifeng Zhang, Mark Hughes 2020 Polymer Composites

Guiding Bacterial Activity for Biofabrication of Complex Materials via Controlled Wetting of Superhydrophobic Surfaces

Luiz G. Greca, Mahdi Rafiee, Alp Karakoç, Janika Lehtonen, Bruno D. Mattos, Blaise L. Tardy, Orlando J. Rojas 2020 ACS Nano
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database
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