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Reusing waste timber

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

By Phil Isaac, Dan Bergsagel and Annabel Koeck

In 2018, it was estimated that across the UK, 2.3M tonnes of timber is reclaimed annually from construction and demolition activities. However, most reclaimed timber is chipped and only around 2.5% is kept in its original form for reuse or re-manufacturing (Cramer, 2020). Keeping timber in the construction industry has numerous benefits, the biggest of which is the lowering demand for new growth timber thus ensuring a greater supply for the industry, ensuring more projects can utilise timber.

The aim of this Circular Construction in Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT) project is to demonstrate a process through which timber can be reclaimed from demolition sites and reused structurally in glue laminated timber elements. The concept behind this is that the potential impacts of defects can be homogenised through the manufacturing process, thus lowering their potential impact on the structural properties.

Using timber supplied from a demolition site in South London supplied by Keltbray the team working on the project started by first characterising the timber to make an assessment of the amount of damage sustained during it’s in service life and removal that may impact the structural properties. Following this longitudinal acoustic resonance tests were conducted to provide an estimate of the elastic modulus.

Upon completion of the characterisation process the timber was transferred to Buckland Timber, the UK's only manufacturer of glue laminated timber. Buckland carried out their own additional assessment before creating 6 beams which will be mechanically tested at Napier University, Edinburgh.

Link to the report can be found here.

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