Woodwool Slabs – Manufacture, Properties and Slabs – Manufacture, Properties and Use by Erik...

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  • Woodwool Slabs Manufacture, Properties and Useby Erik Johansson

    Erik Johansson was born in Swe den in 1963. He holds a masters de gree in Civil En gi neering fromLund Uni ver sity. Since grad u a tion he has done re searchon build ing ma te ri als, and has par tic i pated in de vel op -ment re search pro jects on build ing tech nique and build -ing ma te ri als in Tu ni sia, Al ge ria and Ethi o pia. He isen gaged as a re searcher at Lund Cen tre for Hab i tatStudies and at the Di vi sion of Build ing Ma te rials, the In sti tute of Tech nol ogy, Lund Uni ver sity.

    His mas ters the sis dealt with wa ter leak age in flatroofs in Tu ni sia, and he wrote a Build ing Is sue on thetopic in 1989. He is the house ex pert on foot ball andspends all his free time out in the Swed ish rain cheer ingon his home team Malm FF.


    Acknowledgements 4

    1 Introduction 4

    Problem 4

    Method 4

    Organization of the report 4

    2 General considerations 5

    History of woodwool slabs 5

    Production 5

    Properties 6

    Products and uses 6

    3 Recommendations for production 7

    Manufacturing process 7

    Quality control 10

    Plant 10

    Equipment 10

    Staff 11

    Setting up the plant 12

    Consumption of raw materials and energy 12

    Production costs 12

    4 Choice of wood 14

    Technical requirements for the wood 14

    Availability of the wood 14

    Improving the compatibility of the wood with cement 14

    Tests of suitability 14

    5 Properties 15

    Thermal properties 15

    Strength 15

    Acoustic properties 16

    Fire performance 16

    Moisture properties 17

    Durability 17

    Emissions of harmful compounds 17

    6 Quality control 18

    Size and density 18

    Strength 18

    Other tests 18

    7 Applications 19

    Exterior walls 19

    Roofs and ceilings 22

    Surface finishes 23

    References 24

    Appendix 26


  • Acknowledgements

    I would like to ac knowl edge some of the help I re ceiveddur ing this study.

    First I would like to thank Mr Bengt Rf (Pro duc tion Man ager) and Mr Lennart Rf of Tepro Byggmaterial,sterbymo, Swe den, for their gen er ous hos pi tal ity on the many oc ca sions they in vited me, and my col leagues, totheir fac tory and for the time they took to dis cuss the pro duc tion and use of wood wool slabs.

    In valu able in for ma tion on the pro duc tion and use ofwood wool slabs was pro vided by Elten Sys tems,Barne-veld, the Neth er lands, who also com mented on the draft re port. I am very grate ful to Mr John de Wit (Di vi -sion Man ager) and Mr Ar nold Plak (Ex port Man ager).

    My visit to Climatex Indstria de Ma deiraMinerali-zada, Porto Alegre, Brazil, greatly in creasedmy knowl-edge about wood wool slabs and their use. Iwould like to thank Mr Carlos Roberto Simm (Op er a -tions Direc-tor), Mr Luiz Sergio Bocchese, Mr WernerDopheide, and Mr Romildo Feij da Rosa for their warm re cep tion, hos pi tal ity and will ing ness to pro vide in for -ma tion.

    Last but not least, thanks to Ms Rosane Bauer, Archi-tect, who par tic i pated in the Ar chi tec ture & De vel op -ment course at LCHS in 1993. She acted as guide andtrans la tor dur ing my visit to Porto Alegre.

    Erik Johansson

    1 Introduction


    Ther mal in su la tion is im por tant to im prove in door cli -mate and save en ergy in a build ing. The use of ther malin su la tion ma te ri als are, how ever, of ten lim ited in de vel -op ing coun tries. There are sev eral rea sons, for ex am ple:

    The ad van tages of ther mal in su la tion ma te ri als are not known.

    Lo cal ther mal in su la tion ma te ri als are not avail able. Im ported ther mal in su la tion ma te ri als are ex pen sive

    and re quire for eign cur rency.

    Use of ther mal in su la tion ma te ri als re quires modifi-cat ion in cur rent build ing meth ods.

    This re ports deals with wood wool slabs, a well testedther mal in su la tion ma te rial that can be made lo cally inmost coun tries. Be cause of their ver sa til ity, wood woolslabs are easy to in te grate with most con struc tion tech -niques.

    Many of the ma te ri als tra di tion ally used in con tem po -rary build ings bricks, con crete, stone, soil block, etc. have poor ther mal in su la tion ca pac ity. To reach the samether mal in su la tion as 100 mm of wood wool slab re quires about 4 m nat u ral stone, 1.8 m con crete, 700 mm soilblock or con crete hol low block and 500 mm hol lowbrick.

    MethodThis re port is pri mar ily based on the ex pe ri ence gainedfrom a re search co op er a tion be tween Lund Uni ver sity,Di vi sion of Build ing Ma te rials and LCHS, and the Na tional Cen tre for Build ing Re search and Studies(CNERIB) in Al ge ria dur ing the pe riod 19911993. This pro ject, which in cluded test pro duc tion of wood-woolslabs with Al ge rian woods and full scale tests of theslabs in build ing com po nents, laid the foun da tion for in -tro duc ing wood wool slabs on the Al ge rian mar ket.

    Visits were made to mod ern, com pletely au to matedfac to ries in Swe den and the Neth er lands. A semi-auto -mated, la bour in ten sive fac tory was stud ied in Brazil.De tailed stud ies were also made on the use of wood woolslabs in these coun tries.

    The re port is also based on a study of the lit er a ture,in clud ing a large part of all the ma te rial on wood woolslabs writ ten over the years.

    Organization of the reportThe re port is di vided into two parts. The first part in -cludes Chap ter 1, the back ground to the study, Chap ter 2, a short de scrip tion of the pro duc tion, prop er ties and useof wood wool slabs, and Chap ter 3, a de scrip tion of howwood wool slabs can be pro duced in dus tri ally in de vel op -ing coun tries.

    The sec ond part in cludes Chap ter 4, choos ing an ap -pro pri ate wood, Chap ter 5, the prop er ties of wood woolslabs, Chap ter 6, qual ity con trol, and Chap ter 7 ex am ples of use.

    Volume 6 Number 3 Building Issues 1994


  • 2 General considerations

    History of woodwool slabs

    Slabs of wood wool (ex cel sior), gyp sum and wa ter werepat ented in Ger many al ready in 1880. Dur ing the 1910spro duc tion of wood wool slabs with magnesite as thebind ing agent (pat ented 1908) started in Aus tria. Magne -site1 gave better du ra bil ity than gyp sum.

    Port land ce ment was in tro duced at the end of the1920s, and is the most com mon binder to day, which iswhy they are com monly called wood wool ce ment slabsand, in North Amer ica, ce ment ex cel sior boards (CEB).For a long time wood wool slabs were made in Ger manywith ei ther gyp sum, magnesite or ce ment as binder. Gyp sum slabs are no lon ger made.

    The tech nique to pro duce wood wool slabs mainlyce ment-bonded, but even magnesite-bonded spreadquickly from Aus tria and Ger many to other Eu ro peancoun tries and North Amer ica. A great in crease in pro-duction oc curred dur ing the years be fore and af ter thesec ond world war, and wood wool slabs were spread even far ther geo graph i cally.

    At first ce ment-bonded wood wool slabs were pro -duced by hand in small plants. The equip ment was lim -ited to wood shred ding ma chines, to make the wood-wool, and a mixer. Man u fac ture be came more and moremech a nized over the years, with sig nif i cantly high pro -duc tion ca pac ity. Mod ern fac to ries are nor mally fullymech a nized, and about 15 per sons can pro duce up to 150 m3 slabs a day.

    The most com monly used wood for wood wool slabsco mes from co ni fers, mainly pines and firs. Dur ing the1960s a great num ber of other spe cies were tested, in -clud ing trop i cal woods, to see if they could be used forwood wool slabs. A num ber of spe cies were suit able,which led to pro duc tion of wood wool slabs on other con -ti nents. There is cur rently pro duc tion in Af rica (Ghana,Ma lawi, Namibia, Zam bia), Asia (Burma, In dia, In do ne -sia, Ja pan, Ma lay sia, the Phil ip pines, Tai wan, Thai land)and Latin Amer ica (Brazil, Mex ico, Pan ama, Peru, Ven e -zuela). Pro duc tion in these coun tries var ies in the de greeof mech a ni za tion ev ery thing from man ual to com -pletely au to mated.


    The com po nents needed for wood wool slabs are wood -wool, binder (Port land ce ment or magnesite) and wa ter.Normally a small amount of binder ad di tive is added tospeed up set ting.

    Making woodwoolWood wool can be made from a num ber of woods. Tomake pro duc tion eas ier, the wood should al low easyshred ding (have a low den sity) and not con tain com -pounds that se ri ously in hibit the set ting of the slab.

    Usually the tree trunks are air-dried (sea soned) be fore cut ting into logs and shred ding to wood wool. This re -

    duces the amount of sugar and other com pounds in thewood that in hibit set ting of the slabs, and low ers themois ture con tent (shred ding is more dif fi cult with greenwood).

    To make wood wool, a half metre long log is placed in a shred ding ma chine (Fig. 1) fit ted with scor ing knivesper pen dic u lar to the plan ing knives. The cross sec tion ofthe wood wool is de ter mined by ad just ing the speed withwhich the log is fed to ward the plan ing knife, and thedis tance be tween the scor ing knives. The thick ness of the wood wool can vary be tween 0.2 0.5 mm, and the width be tween 1.5 5 mm de pend ing on how the slab will beused. The amount of wood wool in a slab var ies be tweenabout 75 200 kg de pend ing on the den sity of the slab.

    BinderThe most com monly used binder in wood wool slabs isPort land ce ment, but magnesite can also be used. ThePort land ce ment is nor mally of or di nary type (OPC), al though rapid-hardening ce ment can be used to makethe set ting faster. Some times white ce ment is used