The timber and wood-processing sector has set its sights on the future, through the application of nanotechnology.
The term ‘nanotechnology’ may sound like science fiction, but the timber industry has already incorporated the science in a bid to achieve levels of excellence and innovation previously unseen in the sector.
Nanotechnology is the study of how to manipulate materials at an atomic and molecular level. The timber industry however, is focusing on the technology’s practical application and the possibility of embedding ‘intelligent’ features in wood, setting it apart from other traditional varieties.
The advantages of nanotechnology
Firstly, increased durability. As a natural material, wood is susceptible to deterioration. Although this could be considered an aesthetic issue, it may lead to dangerous structural problems in timber buildings.
If wood can be made stronger and hardier, it can become virtually immune to insect and fungi attacks, as well as the effects of UV radiation, known to produce unwelcome discolouration.
One further feature has been achieved: hydrophobic coatings. Such impermeable coatings completely repel water and its absorption into the core of the wood, instead causing it to form droplets on the surface layer.
All of these characteristics can be easily incorporated into the design of household furniture (even in kitchens, which become practically self-cleaning), thus making them highly desirable to consumers.
With intelligent wood, we can create prefab houses and custom-built or production-built housing units with a solid foundation. Such houses could become market leaders in a sector which – as previously discussed – places growing value on sustainability.
Innovative nanotechnology generates added value for wood and timber products, while at the same time reducing the sectors’ environmental impact.