Poplar based technical wood for structural uses

ProPopulus team

Within the framework of the activities of the COMPOP Timber Project, the IDIE Group (Research and Development in Building Engineering) and the Departments of Architectural Constructions, Applied Physics and Mechanical Structures of ETS Building Engineering of the University of Granada have successfully developed different prototypes of two meter long glued laminated poplar-based beams with embedded carbon fibre fabrics between wooden boards.

The researchers Mary A. Ripoll from IFAPA (Institute of Agricultural Research and Facility and Fisheries of Andalusia), regarding Plantations and first transformation of wood; Francisco Rescalvo and Ignacio Valverde (architectural constructions) for the elaboration of prototypes and mechanical tests; Rafael Bravo and Cristian Timbollas (structural mechanics) for data analysis and numerical simulation; and Antolino Gallego (applied physics) as coordinator.

The structural technical wood offers a huge opportunity for the development of an industry by offering the   construction industry a service oriented to almost null energy consumption, the use of proximity products, the maximum sequestration of carbon and zero waste.

Traditionally, the sawn wood of the tree trunks has been used as beams and pillars for slabs and covers. However, these beams and pillars contain the numerous defects of wood as biological material, (knots, fences, etc.). In addition, they imply low forest usage.

Currently, construction with wood in Europe is committed to industrial products of technical wood that are made by joining small tables or using wooden sheets assembled with serrated joints and structural queues. These kinds of processes allow to achieve a product with better mechanical properties, in addition to promoting a greater use of the trunk, and offering the opportunity to use fast-growing species, such as poplars, which produce trunks of smaller diameter.

The first strategy that has been followed in this work has been to include in its manufacture carbon fibre tissue typically used in the aeronautical industry, which confer a relevant reinforcement of its mechanical properties. IDIE researchers have shown that it is possible to improve the rigidity of laminated poplar beams between 5% and 44%, depending on the amount, type and location of carbon fibre.

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