Nail-laminated timber (NLT) is a large built-up member often used as interior structural members for floors, roofs, walls, and elevator/stair shafts. Because prolonged wetting of wood may cause staining, mould, excessive dimensional change
(sometimes enough to fail fasteners), and even result in decay and loss of strength, construction moisture is an important consideration when building with NLT. This document aims to provide technical information to help architects, engineers, and builders assess the potential for wetting of NLT during building construction and identify appropriate actions to mitigate the risks.
The findings of recent studies from both eastern and western Canada have shown that the drying behaviour of subalpine fir (A. lasiocarpa) and balsam fir (A. balsamea) is similar, which allows common solutions to be applied based on research conducted on one species of fir or the other. This article summarizes previous research findings and good practices that can be adopted in the short term to improve the drying of fir.
Des travaux récents tant dans l’est que dans l’ouest du Canada ont montré que le comportement au séchage du sapin subalpin (A. lasiocarpa) et du sapin baumier (A. balsamea) est similaire, ce qui permet une application de solutions communes à partir de travaux effectués sur l’une ou l’autre variété de sapin. Le présent
document se veut une revue sommaire de résultats de travaux antérieurs et de bonnes pratiques pouvant être adoptées à court terme pour améliorer le séchage de cette essence.
In the pulp and paper and biofuel industries, real-time online characterization of biomass gross calorific value (GCV) is of critical importance to determine its quality and price and for process optimization. Near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy is a relatively low-cost technology that could potentially be used for such an application. However, the NIR spectra are also influenced by biomass temperature (T°) and moisture content (MC). In this paper, external parameter orthogonalization (EPO) is employed to remove simultaneously the influence of T° and MC on the spectra before predicting GCV. EPO is of particular interest when one desires to transfer information from one modeling experiment to another, such as when developing a calibration model for a new property from the same material, or when it would be more efficient to divide the experimental effort. EPO was found to be an effective method for desensitizing a PLS calibration model to the influence of T° and MC, enabling robust and accurate prediction biomass GCV. Partial least squares (PLS) regression models developed with EPO always provided equal or better performance than models developed without EPO. The paper shows that experimental efforts and costs can be reduced by approximately one half while maintaining prediction accuracy and model robustness.
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This study was conducted with the aim of assessing the effects of log storage time and conditions at a BC mill yard on veneer production under mill production conditions. The second objective was to validate the FPInnovations LogdryTM drying model for developed for wood piles in Eastern Canadian mills. The software was used to generate drying rate predictions under the BC mill’s prevailing weather conditions and storage times for comparison with some measured residual moisture contents of Douglas fir logs kept in storage at the mill for six and nine months, sampled and peeled in a laboratory trial in 2016.
The 2016 lab trials suggested little effect of lengthy (winter) storage up to 9 months but mill experience suggests this is excessively long and logs deteriorate in terms of veneer production and quality considerably earlier. Unfortunately due to experimental circumstances the mill peeling trials for the 9 month stored logs were unable to provide an accurate assessment of the true effect on production. Mills trials indicated % heavy sap had remained fairly stable largely within the mill target of 14% to 17% over the storage periods. During the mill trials there were unavoidable heavy confounding effects of different average diameter for log groups and peeler knife condition affecting the expected veneer production variables.
The trials also demonstrated how pile size and height play a major role in protecting logs from drying; with very dry logs having a deleterious effect on veneer production. Logs held in small piles for 12 months or more, even with artificial ‘drying retardants’ such as end sealant and tarping were too dry for reliable peeling, causing very rapid knife wear, spinouts, veneer break-up and line blockages and significant lost recovery. The % heavy sap offtakes from these trials were just 2% to 4%.
LogDryTM provides a fairly good estimate of likely drying rate trends of mid-sized (35 cm/14” to 41 cm/16” range) Douglas fir under the BC mills historic weather conditions over 6 and 9 months.
LogDryTM (Birch setting) was closest to measured log MC in large diameter (46 cm/18”) logs but the Aspen setting was closer to measured MC in small logs (<30 cm/12”). In the limited sample of logs available from the mill in 2016 the 12” logs were much drier after 9 months storage than the model predicted, even on the Aspen setting. Further sampling of piled logs in the small diameter range is needed to verify this observation.
LogDryTM was used to estimate drying rates of logs stored before or after Summer. Modelling indicated a shorter viable storage window for logs delivered before Summer compared to just before Winter, especially in the 6-month range. Residual log MCs were very similar after 12 months regardless of start time.
Further work is required to better calibrate LogdryTM for major Western Canadian species, particularly Douglas fir, Spruce and Lodgepole pine, and reduce the calculation time for simulations. Further adjustment may be needed for simulating real drying rates in very small logs. The model assumption of similar residual MC after 12 months regardless of start time also needs to be verified.
This report documents the instrumentation installed for monitoring moisture, indoor air quality and differential movement performance in a six-storey building located in the City of Vancouver. The building has five storeys of wood-frame construction above a concrete podium, providing 85 rental units for residential and commercial use. It was designed and built to meet the Passive House standard and, once certified, will be the largest building in Canada that meets this rigorous energy standard. Although the design and construction focused on integrating a number of innovative measures to improve energy efficiency, much effort was also made to reduce construction costs. One example of the design measures is the use of a highly insulating exterior wall assembly that integrates rigid insulation between two rows of wall studs as interior air and vapour barriers.
This monitoring study aims to generate data on long-term performance as part of FPInnovations’ effort to assist the building sector in developing durable and energy efficient wood-based buildings, which is expected to translate into reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions from the built environment. The monitoring focuses on measuring moisture performance of the building envelope (i.e., exterior walls, roof, and sill plates); indoor environmental quality including temperature, humidity, and CO2; and vertical differential movement between exterior walls and interior walls below roof/roof decks. In total, 79 instruments were installed during the construction.
The next steps of this study will focus on collecting and analysing data from the sensors installed, and assessing performance related to the building envelope and vertical differential movement. FPInnovations will also collaborate with CanmetENERGY of Natural Resources Canada to monitor heat recovery ventilators and to assess whole-building energy efficiency and occupant comfort. This is expected to start after the mechanical systems are fully commissioned during occupancy. Results of these upcoming phases of work will be published in future reports.
A total of 48 peeler blocks and 256 mini-billets were sampled from mills to investigate the effects of yard storage time, and artificial yard drying and sprinkling on residual moisture contents (MCs) and veneer quality. MC in fresh and stored log inventories varied greatly across mills according to geographic location of their wood supply zones, bark damage and loss, and storage time and conditions. The main findings were as follows:
1. DF logs supplied by three BC mills from the Cariboo, Thompson Okanagan, or Kootenay regions were highly variable in wood MC.
2. Winter-cut DF logs with high sapwood MC stored had good bark retention and high moisture retention over 6 and 9 winter-spring months. No effects on veneer peeling roughness from longer-term winter storage up to 9 months.
3. Summer-cut logs had little or no residual bark, or the bark slipped off very easily during debarking. Exposed, bark-free summer-cut logs can dry and crack on edges and ends very quickly, within a few weeks.
4. A marked decline in veneer quality with piling time in Summer for spruce and DF, suggesting an optimum window of processing of such exposed logs of about two weeks. Veneer quality and recovery suffered markedly once the logs had fully air dried mainly because of edge splits creating natural fragmentation of the ribbon.
5. Mills receiving dry-zone logs with much lower MC have a very limited storage window, especially over winter. As little as 2-3 weeks if bark is damaged or missing.
6. Veneer quality could not be definitively tied to log residual MC. Under the controlled laboratory conditions used here it was observed that peeling quality could still be good at low sapwood MC (35-40%) and or very high (MC>100%). Whether this is still the case in mill production is unknown.
7. Logs must never be allowed to fall below FSP and develop edge-checks or deep end checks.
8. Wax emulsion end sealants were effective at hampering drying and end checking on high MC logs, but not effective on low MC logs.
9. Sprinkling retained log freshness and peel quality in high MC DF for several months and prevented log drying and end splitting as well as inner log staining. Ends absorbed considerable extra moisture. Some variability in peel quality was noted.
10. The prototype EM1000 Ground Penetrating Radar could only be reliably used in log edge mode in DF. The unit would also require re-calibration for the very high sapwood MC in spruce and wet-zone DF logs.
This report summarizes basic wood-moisture relationships, and reviews conditions conducive to adverse consequences of wetting, such as staining, mold growth, decay, strength reduction, and dimensional change and distortion. It also outlines solutions and available resources related to on-site moisture management and design measures. Sorption, including desorption (i.e., loss of moisture) and adsorption (i.e., gain of moisture), is the interaction of wood with the water vapour in the ambient environment. The consequent changes in the amount of bound moisture (or “hygroscopic moisture”) of pre-dried wood affect the physical and mechanical properties. However, the core of a mass timber responds slowly and is well protected from fluctuations in the service environment. Mold growth and fungal staining may occur in a damp environment with a high relative humidity or sources of water. Sorption alone does not increase the moisture content (MC) of pre-dried wood above the fibre saturation point and does not lead to decay. Wood changes its MC more quickly when it absorbs water compared with sorption. This introduces free water (or “capillary water”) and increases the MC above the fiber saturation point. Research has shown that decay does not start below a MC of 26%, when all other conditions are favourable for fungal growth. Decay can cause significant strength reduction, for toughness and impact bending in particular. For a wood member in service, the effect of decay is very complicated and depends on factors, such as the size of a member, loading condition, fungi involved, location and intensity of the attack. Appearance of decay does not reflect true residual stiffness or strength. For wood-based composites severe wetting without decay may affect the structural properties and performance due to damage to the bonding provided by the adhesive inside.
There are large variations among wood species, products and assemblies in their tendency to trap moisture and maintain durability. For a given wood species, the longitudinal direction (vs. the transverse directions) and the sapwood (vs. heartwood) absorb water more quickly. Capillaries between unglued joints (e.g., some CLT, glulam), exposed end grains, and interconnected voids inside a product increase the likelihoods of moisture entrapment, slow drying, and consequently decay. Many mass timber products, composites in particular, may be modified to reduce these issues. Measures should also be taken in design, during construction, or building operation to reduce the moisture risk and increase the drying ability. It is also important to facilitate detection of water leaks in a mass timber building and to make it easier to repair and replace members in case damage occurs. Preservative-treated or naturally durable wood should be used for applications that are subjected to high moisture risk. Localized on-site treatment may be appropriate for specific vulnerable locations. Changing environmental conditions may cause issues, such as checking, although it does not compromise the structural integrity in most cases. Measures may be taken to allow the timbers to adjust to the service conditions slowly (e.g., through humidity control), particularly in the first year of service.
Overall there is very little information about the potential impacts that various wetting scenarios during construction and in service could realistically have on mass timber products and systems. The wetting and drying behaviour, impacts of wetting and biological attack on the structural capacity, and the behaviour under extreme environmental conditions, such as the very dry service environment that occurs during the winter in a northern continent, should be assessed to improve design of mass timber buildings.
In British Columbia, due to the decline of lodgepole pine, mills should expect higher volumes of sub-alpine fir in their species mix. The impact on drying is significant. For example, drying times for green SPF (spruce, pine, sub-alpine fir) vary from 24 to 36 hours whereas drying times for sub-alpine fir can easily exceed 70 hours. In addition to longer drying times, the drying of species such as sub-alpine fir using current procedures often results in wet lumber and value loss can be higher than $100 per Mfbm. The potential annual impact for a typical BC mill is estimated to be in the range $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
Along the years, sawmills have invested millions of dollars in drying technology (conventional drying and green sorting systems) which, for the most part are efficient and relatively low cost. Thus, under the circumstances outlined above, sawmills urgently need to find ways to minimize the problems associated with the drying of sub-alpine fir that is, new procedures or combination of methods, to ensure maximum grade recovery at the end of drying and reduce drying times (increase productivity and lower processing costs). In addition, the pressure exerted by typical longer drying times for sub-alpine fir will impact the drying of spruce and pine. Thus, strategies to speed the drying for those two species are needed to maintain annual production targets.
The main objective of this project is to evaluate several strategies using existing technology so that sawmills can readily implement them throughout their drying operations dealing with larger volumes of sub-alpine fir and for mills with kiln capacity constraints which could compromise their production targets.
Two of the major topics of interest to those designing taller and larger wood buildings are the susceptibility to differential movement and the likelihood of mass timber components drying slowly after they are wetted during construction. The Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, British Columbia provides a unique opportunity for non-destructive testing and monitoring to measure the ‘As Built’ performance of a relatively tall mass timber building. Field measurements also provide performance data to support regulatory and market acceptance of wood-based systems in tall and large buildings.
This report first describes instrumentation to measure the vertical movement of selected glulam columns and cross-laminated timber (CLT) walls in this building. Three locations of glulam columns and one CLT wall of the core structure were selected for measuring vertical movement along with the environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) in the immediate vicinity. The report then describes instrumentation to measure the moisture changes in the wood roof structure. Six locations in the roof were selected and instrumented for measuring moisture changes in the wood as well as the local environmental conditions.
All sensors and instrumentations, with the exception of one, were installed and became operational in the middle of March 2014, after the roof sheathing was installed. The other instrumentation was installed in July 2014. This report presents performance of the building during its first year as measured from topping out of the structure. In the end, the one-year period covers six months of construction and six months of occupancy. This is the first year of a planned five-year monitoring.
The first year’s monitoring showed that the wood inside the building had reached moisture content (MC) of about 4-6% in the heating season, from an initial MC of 13% during construction. Glulam columns were extremely dimensionally stable given the changes in MC and loading conditions. With a height of over 5 m and 6 m, respectively, the two glulam columns measured in this study showed very small amounts of vertical movement, each below 2 mm. The cumulative shortening of the six glulam columns along the height of the building would be about 8 mm, not taking into account deformation at connection details or effects of reduced loads on upper floors. The CLT wall was found to be also dimensionally stable along the height of the building. The measurements showed that the entire CLT wall, from Floor 1 to Floor 6, would shorten about 14 mm. The CLT floors, however, had considerable shrinkage in the thickness direction, and therefore should be taken into consideration in the design and construction of components, such as curtain walls, which are connected to the floors. In terms of the roof performance, two locations, both with a wet concrete layer poured above the plywood sheathing, showed wetness during construction but dried slowly afterwards. The good drying performance must be attributed to the interior ventilation function designed for the roof assemblies by integrating strapping between the sheathing and the mass timber beams below. Overall this monitoring study shows the differential movement occurring among the glulam columns and the CLT wall is small and the wood roof has good drying performance.
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