DAEJEON, Aug. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s National Institute of Forest Science has developed a new wood building material that can withstand fires, opening up the possibility of wooden skyscrapers in the country, the government branch responsible for forestry announced on Wednesday.
According to the Korea Forest Service, the National Institute of Forest Science reported it had successfully developed a wooden building material after passing a fire safety test for two hours, a requirement imposed on tall wood buildings in South Korea.
During the fire safety tests conducted at the fire safety laboratory of the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT), a total of five different types of material including floor and wall tiles used in laminated wood columns and crossbeams, and cross laminated timber all met the required standards.
Cross laminated timber, wood panels consisting of layers put together at right angles to one another, are thought to be a much stronger and safer material than glued laminated timber.
The new products are the first wood building materials to pass the fire safety test in South Korea, which meant that in the past it was impossible for wood building construction projects taller than five storeys to go forward.
However, industry officials are hopeful the new material will spark interest in the wood building industry.
“(The findings) could put to rest the stereotype that wood buildings are vulnerable to fires and boost interest in tall wood buildings. Including the World Conference on Timber Engineering, which will be held later this year, the National Institute of Forest Science will lead the development of wood buildings,” said Park Moon-jae, the head of the materials engineering department at the National Institute of Forest Science.
When properly structured and constructed, wood buildings are also thought to have more effective thermal insulation, which can help residents economize on their heating bills while also lowering the impact on the environment, according to researchers at the Korea Forest Service.
Structural materials used in buildings including timber are also designed to withstand fires better, as plaster board used with wood slows down the speed at which materials burn by four centimeters an hour.
Against this backdrop, the number of wood building projects is slowly rising in South Korea from around 12,000 in 2013 to nearly 17,000 in 2016.
The Korea Forest Service has been increasingly advocating the use of wood materials in the South Korean building industry in recent years, citing its advantages including environment and skin friendliness, with plans to build a 10-storey wood apartment tower by 2020.
Previously, officials at the KFRI have said that wood structure buildings can be an answer to the issue of climate change, as wood can store carbon that is generated in urban areas, and called for cooperation from the industry in conducting further research.
Ashley Song (email@example.com)