Leading-edge technology is being developed in Prince George BC, which could save the OSB industry millions of dollars per year.
University of Northern BC (UNBC) researcher Matt Reid is working with Del-Tech Manufacturing to test the feasibility of using terahertz radiation to improve quality control and reduce raw material input in OSB production, according to the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
The Trust provided UNBC with C$200,000 to purchase critical equipment to test the groundbreaking concept.
NASA uses terahertz to examine foam on the space shuttle, but wood industry applications had only been considered in recent years, said Reid.
Mr Reid explained that Terahertz radiation falls on the light spectrum between microwaves and infrared light. By passing a terahertz beam through a wooden object and measuring the signal on the other side, Reid is able to “seeinside the wood. “The shape and amplitude of the wave has all the information you need,he said. “You can see density and fiber structure.”
It is the fibre structure which is most critical to OSB producers: in order to achieve maximum strength, the fibers of each layer have to lie perpendicular to each other.
OSB manufacturers currently have no way to tell how well aligned the fibers are when the boards are made. They have to produce the boards, then test them for strength. “With this technology, they could make a 2.5% reduction in raw materials – that’s C$2m a year for an average-size OSB mill,Del-Tech strategic planner Dennis Callaghan said.
OSB manufacturers would also be able to more accurately gauge how strong the board will be before it’s made, he said.