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Sustainable timber alternatives

Jartek is the world’s leading supplier of thermal modification solutions for timber products. Thermal modification reduces shrinkage and swelling and improves wood’s inherent resistance to decay. The result is timber that is excellent for windows, parquet and other flooring, garden furniture, and outdoor applications – and offers an attractive, sustainable alternative to tropical hardwood.

Jartek’s thermal modification solutions are based on the ThermoWood® process, which was developed as a joint effort by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the YTI Research Centre, and the Tampere University of Technology. The project resulted in a patented production process, a registered trademark, a quality assurance and lifecycle assessment toolbox, and an ongoing product development initiative – owned and coordinated by the Finnish ThermoWood Association.

The process is a three-stage one, and uses heat and steam to reduce the moisture content of either green or pre-dried wood to virtually zero. Other than heat and steam, no chemicals or other agents are required.

Examples of oak processed in a Tekmaheat kiln.

The resulting timber offers a high-quality, sustainable alternative to treated wood or tropical hardwoods in a wide variety of applications. Its resistance to decay, shrinkage, and swelling is considerably better than that of untreated wood, for example. With a low moisture content, thermally modified timber does not crack and remains dimensionally stable regardless of large swings in ambient temperature and weather conditions.

After use, this type of timber can also be disposed of normally, without the special procedures required with chemically impregnated timber.

Typical applications include internal flooring and exterior decking in the case of hardwood, and exterior cladding, fittings, or furniture in the case of softwood.

Turnkey packages

Tekmaheat systems are designed to be highly durable and resistant to the corrosive acids and other chemicals that can leach out of wood during major changes in temperature – and are controlled by the company’s WinTek software. This is highly flexible and enables customised new recipes to be easily developed for different types of wood. Temperature control is simple and precise, whatever the fuel used for heating: electricity, fuel oil, natural gas, or biomass.

Systems are configured on a turnkey basis, and deliveries always include an extensive training package. To date, they have been supplied to customers in countries such as Sweden, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Turkey, and Croatia, and even as far afield as New Zealand, as well as the United States and a research institute in Canada.

Jartek’s Tekmaheat kilns are very competitively priced, and all produce the same high-quality end-product.
> Antti Ratia
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)