A new sustainable value chain for Swiss wood

25.06.2020 Numerous valuable substances can be obtained from Swiss wood. The construction of a pilot plant to obtain extracts from forest biomass represents a major milestone for Bern University of Applied Sciences – together with its industry partner Schilliger Holz AG – on the path to the sustainable production of extracts that could replace oil-based compounds in various applications in future. It will also create a new sustainable value chain for Swiss wood.

From laboratory to industrial scale

The research associates led by Prof. Dr. Ingo Mayer from the Institute for Materials and Wood Technology IWH have completed the development of the extraction process at the laboratory phase. In the pilot phase extracts can now, for the first time, be obtained in sufficient quantity and quality to develop applications with a high degree of technological maturity. The extraction processes developed in the laboratory will also be tested in the pilot phase. The goal is to scale up the processes to industrial level.

The extracts from the pilot plant will be used in a wide range of applications, including the manufacture of low-emission adhesives for the wood-based materials sector. The researchers have also used the substances to produce highly fire-resistant resin systems which can be used in composite materials for the interior fit-out of railway carriages or aeroplanes. Their high level of bioactivity means the substances can also be used in completely new applications previously inaccessible to the wood industry. They can, for example, be used as an additive in animal feed where they reduce bacterial growth and parasite infestation in livestock.

The aim of the pilot plant is to create a new value chain for Swiss wood that is sustainable and will make a major contribution to Switzerland’s future bioeconomy.

The pilot plant has been installed at the BFH Centre for Wood – Resource and Material and complements the BFH Centre’s existing infrastructure in the field of biomass conversion to create a unique set of facilities.

The project is being carried out with support from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) as part of the Wood Action Plan.

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Subject area: Division Wood