Friday Offcuts 13 August 2021
Lignin-based materials being developed include products that can for example, replace synthetic graphite used in batteries of electric vehicles. Stora Enso in their latest financial update said that they’re projecting the global battery market will grow tenfold over the next decade as battery producers look for more sustainable materials for the electrification of mobility. As well as the automotive industry, these new fibre products are being used extensively in consumer electronics and large-scale energy storage systems. And in Canada, the Government and industry have also been working on integrating local bio-materials from local forests into concrete applications. Further information on both stories is contained in this week’s issue.
In recent newsletters, we’ve covered the versatility of wood along with a raft of new innovations, both in the lab and those that have been rolled out commercially. As well as being produced as solid lumber and engineered wood products, wood today is just so much more than wood. It’s a natural material. It can be transparent, liquid, as resistant as steel or concrete, expanded, 3D-printable and flexible. We’ve built in a story this week that’s pitched at architects and designers detailing a wide range of new products that are being produced by changing wood’s nanoscopic structure using new transformation processes.
And as we’re in the midst of planting right now, we cover a story on a planting trial underway with a New Zealand company. They’re involved in one of the country’s largest reforestation projects. Local foresters have heard from companies like DroneSeed and AirSeed Technologies at recent ForestTECH events where they’re using drones and seed pods for planting, typically for reforestation or rehabilitation. In this latest trial, the seeds have been collected from local native species in the area. They’re encased within an organic mixture, compressed, put into a pod and then fired out from a drone (see video in this week's story). Ten drone flights can spread 50,000 of these tiny parcels in just half an hour says the company behind the venture.
And finally, a reminder to all of you to take advantage of the early bird discounted registration rates for upcoming tech events including;
- New Zealand’s WoodWorks 2021 conference & exhibitions in mid-September featuring on-site tours through the new Red Stag CLT plant in Rotorua. Click here to register.
- The annual ForestTECH 2021 conference, exhibitions and workshops running between 22-24 November in New Zealand and available to those outside New Zealand with live streaming. Click here for full details. And that’s it for this week. Enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
KIPT abandons forestry for agricultureKangaroo Island Plantation Timbers (KIPT) will convert its timber plantations to traditional agricultural production after the South Australian government knocked back the company's development application to build a port at Smith Bay on the Island's north-east coastline.
The company owns most of Kangaroo Island's tree crop and has announced to shareholders that it would soon convert its 18,696 hectares of high rainfall land to agricultural production. KIPT told the stockmarket the land was valued at AU$51.4 million.
It said the company would also continue to salvage any harvest opportunities, particularly for softwood plantations. KITP chairman Paul McKenzie said the announcement marked a major turning point for the company. "By undertaking this lower-risk and well-trodden strategy, we will turn our land into an institutional-grade, conventional agricultural estate," Mr McKenzie said.
Biomaterials paying dividends for forestry giantThe Helsinki-based forest industry company Stora Enso doubled its business result in April-June compared to the same period last year, said the company in a recent press release.
The operational earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of Stora Enso in the second quarter (Q2) was 364 million euros (429.5 million U.S. dollars), compared with 178 million euros in the same period of 2020. Sales in Q2 increased by 22.6 percent to 2,592 million euros compared to last year, the release stated.
In the press release, Stora Enso attributed its progress to both larger volumes and higher prices. The company cited biomaterials, wood products, and packaging materials as outstanding sectors. In her statement, Annica Bresky, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Stora Enso, highlighted lignin-based products as a key innovation area in biomaterials that will later give growth to Stora Enso.
They are designed to replace synthetic graphite used in batteries of electric vehicles. "Through this solution, we aim to increase the availability of a highly strategic material for the European automotive sector," Bresky said.
Stora Enso also announced the launch of pilot production of bio-based carbon materials from lignin. This follows the company's 10-million-euro investment announced in 2019 and the pilot plant is located at its Sunila production site in south eastern Finland. The brand name is Lignode, whose applications include, besides the auto industries, consumer electronics as well as large- scale energy storage systems.
Stora Enso said that the global battery market is projected to grow tenfold over the next decade as battery producers seek more sustainable materials for the electrification of mobility.
Today, fossil-based carbon is used in the anodes of rechargeable batteries. "By converting lignin separated from wood into carbon-based anode materials, the synthetic and non-renewable graphite material can be replaced," the press release said.
Seed-dropping drone being trialedA New Zealand team hopes a drone dropping thousands of seeds over the Hūnua ranges could provide a boost to native reforestation efforts. RNZ reporter Louise Ternouth and cameraman Nick Monro were there for its launch.
If the trial works, the drone-testing team say New Zealand could be progressing on the government's ambitious goal of 1 billion trees planted by 2028 years earlier than expected. For the last three years native trees have been slowly planted by hand in the former pine forest in the Hūnua Ranges.
It is one of the biggest reforestation projects in New Zealand -and the drone method could be a game changer. In a trial, five thousand of the specially made 'seed pods', or seed bombs, were loaded into the drone at a time, then scattered over a one-acre testing section from the air.
Sam Vye from drone firm Envico Technologies said the method was much better than planting by hand. "The traditional methods of going around and planting a seedling every square metre is great but it's slow, and the New Zealand landscape is pretty steep terrain so any method that we can do by air that improves the speed, improves the efficiency and reduces the cost."
Dropping seeds alone had little success - so the team adapted a popular method for encasing seeds in a ball of organic matter to help them germinate and get established, known as a seed bomb, and have called their version a 'seed pod'. "We were getting a really poor take, real poor germination so we came up with the idea of actually encapsulating the seed within an organic mixture and putting that into a pod."
The seeds are mixed with water, clay and compost and compressed into a small ball shape. Each one weighs about two grams, is about the size of a lolly, and contains five to six different native seeds gathered from the area. Ten drone flights could spread 50,000 of the tiny parcels in just half an hour, Vye said.
"We think, per hectare we would be under $1000 in a commercial operation." That compared to costs of about $10,000 to 20,000 per hectare to plant by hand. It would be about three years before they know if the trial has worked, but the seeds are expected to germinate this spring.
To check out video footage of the recent trial click here.
Popular Economist for WoodWorks ConferenceMeet the WoodWorks 2021 Conference Presenters: Shamubeel Eaqub
Keynote Presentation: Build-to-Rent - An Opportunity for Engineered Wood and Commercial Builders
Shamubeel Eaqub is a well-known Economist with Sense Partners. House building is twice as big as non-residential. The way we build houses is about to change. The big change needed in housing is to go from small scale development for owner-occupiers, to institutions who build for renters. This will be helped by policy changes that will allow significant intensification along transport corridors.
Build to rent is a common sector internationally and is just getting a foothold in New Zealand. As it grows, those with commercial and vertical building expertise will be best placed to build better homes with better materials and better methods. The presentation at WoodWorks 2021 will present the case for expanding this part of the building and construction industry and contributing to solving the housing crisis.
Architects and construction managers are already taking advantage of the great Group Rate pricing for this conference. The WoodWorks Conference in mid-September also features limited places to look through the new Red Stag CLT Plant. Click here to register.
Building timelines blow out amid timber shortageConstruction jobs are getting bogged down in delays due to a lack of timber and other building supplies.
With the New Zealand government considering an inquiry into the chronic shortage of timber and potentially even export controls, builders are speaking out about how difficult construction is right now. It is seen as one of the biggest handbrakes on the ambitious building programme needed to alleviate the housing crisis, which is fundamentally being driven by a lack of housing supply.
Jono Kraenzlin is a project manager at JCC Build in Hamilton, and said the situation is unlike anything he’s seen in 18 years in the industry. “Things that you’d order a week in advance, two weeks in advance, you have to order three months in advance, with no guarantees that you’re going to get them. And that’s just the start of it,” said Kraenzlin.
“Some products we’re getting ETAs of mid-2022 at the bare minimum, with no guarantee. It’s a massive problem and a growing problem – it seems to be a new product added to the list every week.”
The products in short supply include some of the basics of residential building but also some of the products being used to replace them. Kraenzlin said fibre cement and plywood products are currently hard to find. As well as that, supply of different timber sizes is inconsistent. “You can get 4×2, but you can’t get 3×2,” he said.
Kraenzlin said building companies, which generally secure materials through trade accounts with big supply companies, are currently facing a need to stockpile, with several supply firms not taking on new customers. As well as that, he said supply firms are “protecting” their top customers and their orders.
Multiple companies aren’t taking on new trade accounts this year at a minimum, which is completely different “compared to, say, six months ago when you’d have reps knocking on your door”. The stockpiling is contributing to panic in the industry, said Kraenzlin.
Further coverage on building supplies shortages and current impacts can be read here and here.
Sources: the spinoff, Scoop
Deputy DG Te Uru Rākau announcedTe Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service has announced the appointment of Jason Wilson to the role of Deputy Director-General. Jason’s current role in Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service has been as the Director of Sector Investment, where he’s been leading work on strengthening the forestry and wood processing supply chain, and on the Forestry and Wood Products Industry Transformation Plan.
Jason has over 25 years of experience across the forestry and wood processing sector in Australia and New Zealand, and he has held senior positions in companies such as Timberlink and Carter Holt Harvey. Jason will move into his new role from Monday 9th August.
The Forest Owners Association says the appointment of Jason Wilson to head Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, is absolutely appropriate for the huge challenges and opportunities facing the forest industry in its key role of enabling New Zealand to meet both climate change and economic targets.
Forest Owners Association President, Phil Taylor, says Jason Wilson’s current role of leading the Forest Industry Transformation Plan demonstrates the government appointment is not a ‘business as usual’ selection, but is based on a sharp appreciation of the combination of imminent rapid economic growth of the forest industry, driven by climate change combating products on one hand, and the carbon sequestration ability of plantation forests on the other.
Phil Taylor says he wants to pay tribute to the contribution made by the acting head of Te Uru Rākau Henry Weston. “In our Association dealings with Henry, we always found him to be an exceptionally able industry champion who got things done. I hope that he will be available to continue to make his valuable contributions to Te Uru Rākau and the industry.”
Source: Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service, FOA
Satellite offering for Aussie Earth observationFrom early July Australian researchers in industries like agriculture and natural disaster management can apply to direct the Earth observation satellite NovaSAR-1 by accessing Australia’s share of the satellite, managed by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. This will mark the first time Australia has managed its own source of Earth observation data, contributing to the growth of the nation’s space industry.
The satellite can take images of the Earth through all weather conditions, including heavy cloud and smoke, offering a valuable data advantage to the many industries now harnessing the estimated AU$2.5 billion in economic benefits from the Earth observation sector. Dave Williams, CSIRO’s Executive Director Digital, National Facilities and Collections said CSIRO would be operating its share of the satellite as a national facility available to Australian researchers.
“CSIRO has a strong track record of hosting world-class national research infrastructure on behalf of the nation, including radio telescopes, a marine research vessel, a high-containment facility for researching infectious diseases, supercomputers, biological collections and digital capability,” Dr Williams said.
“Although Australia is one of the largest users of Earth observation data, until now we have not had direct control over the tasking of an Earth observation satellite, so the opening of our NovaSAR-1 facility represents a step change for Australian research and an important step forward for our space industry.”
Satellite data will be downloaded to a receiving station near Alice Springs owned by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT), Australia’s first and only Aboriginal-owned-and-operated ground segment service provider. Dr Amy Parker, CSIRO Satellite Operations and Data Manager, said synthetic aperture radar imagery like that from NovaSAR-1 has not been widely used in Australia before.
“So far, we’ve used the satellite to capture over 1,000 images, all of which are now available to users. NovaSAR-1 is an exciting addition to the country’s Earth observation resources while also helping us to build our capabilities in satellite operations,” Dr Parker said. Applications to use the NovaSAR-1 national facility will be reviewed by an independent committee and allocated based on the scientific merit of the proposed research.
To access the NovaSAR-1 data or find out more about applying for satellite time, visit CSIRO NovaSAR-1 national facility at www.csiro.au/novasar
Sustainable bioproducts in concrete?There’s no end in sight to the worldwide interest in sustainable bio-based materials. Their role towards a global and sustainable bioeconomy is crucial. Integrating local bio-sourced products in concrete applications has specifically been a growing interest for the Canadian government and industry.
In its efforts to introduce forest-based biomaterials to new markets, FPInnovations developed expertise in concrete over the past few years and has been working with the concrete industry towards the use of innovative bioproducts in concrete applications.
The concrete industry has been praised for its efforts in seeking innovative products to continuously improve its material properties, to reduce its carbon footprint, and to compensate for depletion of suitable raw material sources. The use of cellulosic bioproducts in concrete has specifically been gaining momentum in recent years, which has led to the emergence of new products across global markets such as Cellulose Filaments (CF).
“Cellulosic bioproducts hold unique characteristics and properties that make it stand out as a major player in the bioproducts market and that make it a great addition to concrete applications”, says Frédéric Lory, Project Leader at FPInnovations.
When derived from sustainably-managed forests such as Canada’s, cellulosic bioproducts can be renewable and can reduce carbon emissions of the concrete industry through carbon storage and through reduced greenhouse gas emissions. They are also readily available in volume since they are a by-product of other forest operations processes, and are easy to handle and transport in large quantities.
Australia’s first hydrogen-powered trucksHyzon Motors has signed a vehicle supply agreement with Australian industrial gases company Coregas to deliver two hydrogen fuel cell trucks. The Hyzon Hymax-450 prime movers should be delivered in the first half of 2022 and are expected to be the first hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles to operate in Australia.
The vehicles plan to be immediately deployed upon arrival from Hyzon’s manufacturing facility in the Netherlands, replacing Coregas’ existing diesel fleet and transporting speciality gases, including hydrogen, to Coregas customers in Sydney and wider New South Wales. The project aims to deliver emissions reductions of 50% in comparison with trucks currently in use.
Coregas, a Wesfarmers company, is a leader in industrial gases with a 40- year history in the generation and distribution of industrial gases, including operating Australia’s largest merchant hydrogen plant in Port Kembla, which supplies customers across various sectors including manufacturing and mobility.
It’s actively pursuing hydrogen as an energy source through participation in projects aimed at accelerating the energy transition across Australia. Coregas is also in the process of developing Australia’s first commercial vehicle hydrogen refuelling station at its Port Kembla facility to support both the Hyzon hydrogen-powered heavy-duty vehicles and the refuelling of trucks and buses operators by third parties.
The project represents a strategic first step in developing a broader hydrogen ecosystem and Port Kembla and Illawarra-Shoalhaven are earmarked to be an “epicentre of the emerging hydrogen sector”, the companies say.
Hyzon and Coregas say they are engaging with companies operating in and around the port on the opportunity to transition to hydrogen and decarbonise the heavy vehicle fleet. Currently, around 7000 trucks travel between the region and Sydney each day.
The New South Wales Government has recently announced an AU$70 million package to support the establishment of hydrogen hubs in the state, with Port Kembla identified as a priority location given its deep-water port, electricity and gas infrastructure, water recycling plant, road and rail connections, research and development presence, and sizeable heavy-duty vehicle fleet.
Largest timber structure in Asia underwayAt over 800,000 sqft (75,000sqm), the new Tianfu Agriculture Expo will be the largest timber structure in Asia, and one of the largest timber structures in the world. Working closely with one of China's most famous architects, CuiKai, the structural design for this series of 5 vaults uses unique Vierendeel trusses to achieve clear spans of more than 115m and heights of 45m.
Stay tuned for more details - construction has begun, and in partnership with Hasslacher more than 3500m3 of Glulam has already been shipped to Chengdu!
As well as beautiful finished clips, take a behind the scenes look at the timber engineering, full-scale structural testing, and custom parametric geometry and structural analysis engine which enabled these freeform structures.
Tasmania Forestry Hub appoints new GMAfter more than 25 years’ working in domestic and international forestry and agriculture sectors, the Tasmania Regional Forestry Hub’s new general manager will soon return to his home state where he hopes to make a tangible difference to the growth and standing of the local forest and forest products industry.
Simon Talbot—who hails from six generations of Tasmanian farmers and foresters—will commence his new role in mid-September, following an interstate move from Victoria where he currently holds the position of Executive Director for the state’s largest land manager, Parks Victoria/DELWP.
“My career began in Tasmanian working in silviculture, forestry and paper sectors and has let to opportunities directing agricultural policy and associated plantation investments across Asia Pacific, for the world’s second largest food company, Kraft/Cadbury,” Mr Talbot said. Despite living and working outside the state for many years, Mr Talbot said Tasmania has always remained ‘home’.
“I have family and friends in sawmilling and harvesting operations in Tassie and believe I have a thorough knowledge of Tasmania’s forestry sector from more than seven years working across in the pulp and paper industry in the state’s north-west, as well as active investments in plantations and promotion of specialty timbers.
“I believe we are on the cusp of a golden age, for the industry and Tasmania in general, and I want to be a part of helping showcase what is being achieved, to support innovation and new developments, a revitalised supply chain, help create a pipeline of talent and achieve the right patient investment models.”
A federal initiative, the Tasmania Hub’s vision is to grow a sustainable, innovative forest industry that supports Tasmania’s community and economy into the future and is supported by the community by focusing on four strategic priorities: climate and carbon policy, workforce skills and training, resource and land access, and supply chain and infrastructure.
Tasmanian Forests and Forest Products Network Convenor, Therese Taylor said in recruiting its new GM, the Hub was looking for someone who could work with industry to implement a roadmap addressing the sector’s identified priority areas which focus on strategic actions that encourage the planting of new trees and foster an innovative and forward-looking industry.
“Simon will be a great asset to the Hub’s work. He has a proven track record working with a range of stakeholders on complex and significant projects and in this new role, will work with the industry across the state to develop agreed pathways forward to advance opportunities for progress and growth of the forest industry into the future,” Ms Taylor said.
Mr Talbot and his family will relocate permanently to their recently renovated farmhouse in northern Tasmania next month.
Wood. Can we still call it that?The new generation of high-performance wood materials offers unexpected hi-tech possibilities to the worlds of design and architecture
Designed to be biodegradable and carbon neutral, the materials of the future are destined to be bio-manufactured, bio-derived, biobased. In all likelihood, to keep their impact low, we will arrive at an idea of ad-hoc cultivated materials. This scenario, which is changing the parameters of innovation, asks us all to rethink the way we mentally categorise materials.
And it requires designers and architects to change the way they choose and use materials. All materials, including the most traditional, are being updated in technical terms. Foremost among these is wood, which, in view of a sustainability profile increasingly aimed at impact minimisation and sustainable forest management, is surprisingly acquiring performance features that are entirely comparable to those of hi-tech materials.
Driven by hi-tech innovation, made possible by changes performed at the level of its nanoscopic structure and transformation processes, today wood offers an extraordinary plurality of languages, both technical and formal, while always remaining a natural material. Wood can be transparent, liquid, as resistant as steel or concrete, expanded, 3D-printable, flexible, sewable. And much, much more.
No, we’re not considering limiting timber exportsThe New Zealand Government says it is not considering limiting timber exports to increase supply, as New Zealand battles a shortage of timber for housing. A lack of building products, including timber, is affecting the country’s ability to build the new houses needed. The post-lockdown housing market boom has seen house prices skyrocket, with a lack of supply cited as one of the main reasons.
Minister for Building and Construction Poto Williams was reported as considering putting limits on timber exports as one option to protect domestic supply. Last Wednesday, Williams said the Government would not be interfering in timber exports.
She had received advice that some suppliers were already increasing structural timber production over the next six months, reducing exports, and moving stock from the South Island to the North Island where demand was higher.
“This government has already signalled our intention for building products to be the subject of a market study by the Commerce Commission.” In March, Carter Holt Harvey stopped supplying wood products to major retailers. Carter Holt, the country’s largest producer of structural timber, said at the time there had been “short-term industry-wide” supply issues.
Julien Leys, chief executive of the Building Industry Federation, said the structural timber shortage was the worst in living memory.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... the highest person on the planet
Trending this week - it was a 33-second airline advert that some viewers had called fake, but now Emirates has revealed a short behind-the-scenes video to prove that the “flight attendant” on top of the world’s tallest building is indeed real.
The agency behind the video, Prime Productions AMG, used a helicopter and drones to capture the images of Smith-Ludvik, described as the “bravest woman on the planet”. The result is one of the highest adverts ever filmed and a lot of anxious viewers.
And on that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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