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Wood science: chemical composition and ultrastructure of the woody cell wall; biological processes of wood formation; anatomy of wood; physical behavior of wood; the interaction of wood with water; the variability of wood properties; factors influencing wood properties; wood quality based on product requirements; the implication of silviculture on wood properties. Wood processing: saw milling; timber drying; wood preservation; timber grading; wooden panel manufacturing (particle boards, MDF, OSB, plywood); pulp and paper production; energy sector.
Wood is unique in its material properties when compared to competing materials like steel, plastics or concrete. The difference is caused by its highly complex molecular and supra-molecular structure. The first part of the course focuses on the chemical, biological and physical phenomena encountered when trying to understand the behavior of wood as a material. Starting on the molecular scale, the chemical composition and ultrastructure of the woody cell wall will be explored followed by the biological processes responsible for the unique anatomy of wood from individual species. The chemical and biological aspects are essential to understanding the physical properties of wood such as strength and stiffness, as well as the interaction of wood with water. Finally, wood quality under the above-mentioned premises is considered and implications for silviculture and forest management are discussed.The second part looks at the processing of wood, starting with the breakdown of logs in sawmills into solid wood products and involved processes; drying and preservation. These operations are highly complex and vary greatly with the available timber resource. A large portion of the wood resource is broken down into smaller particles of various size and shape and reconstituted into products like wood panels or LVL beams. Another sector using large quantities of wood as raw material is the paper industry. The relevant processes and products are discussed, and the advantages and disadvantages for processing wood in a particular way are explained. A final point are the possibilities of using wood as an energy source and the different technologies for converting the solid fuelwood into liquid or gaseous fuels.
Students will: Know the biological and chemical processes giving rise to the physical properties of wood Understand the advantages and limitations of wood as a material; Understand the key factors influencing wood properties; Be aware of the challenges and opportunities caused by the enormous variability of wood properties; Relate wood properties to the wood quality required by the wood processing industries; Have knowledge about the manufacturing processes and structure of the wood processing industry; Have practical experience in assessing wood properties; and Be able to present scientific and technical topics in seminar and written formats.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:
Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award
Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.
ENFO327, FORE327 prior to 2011
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Walker, J. C. F. , SpringerLink (Online service);
Primary wood processing : principles and practice;
Additional Reference materials are available on the course Learn web page
Stout footwear is essential for industrial visits and work in laboratories.
Domestic fee $1,874.00
International fee $8,725.00
* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.
For further information see
School of Forestry.