Blast Testing Shows CLT Can Take the Heat

Here at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we sometimes get a little destructive. We bend and break wood samples of all sizes, and we even shoot lumber out of a cannon at 100 miles per hour.

But explosions? That’s a bit out of our wheelhouse. Not that wood can’t handle it. Particularly when it’s used in engineered products like cross-laminated timber (CLT), which FPL researchers have studied from many angles, including fire performance, use in earthquake-prone regions, and the effects of moisture on CLT.

Recent tests of CLT structures show just how tough this material can be. A series of live blast tests were conducted at Tyndall Air Force Base by WoodWorks in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and Softwood Lumber Board.

The specifics of the tests are outlined in this great Woodworking Network article, but if you’re looking for a spoiler, the results were promising, and they “will be used to further expand the use of wood solutions for Department of Defense applications and other blast-resistant construction.”

You can view all the tests at and we posted our favorite below. While not a dramatic view of the explosion itself, this high-speed shot shows the wood panels moving with the force of the blast without being destroyed.

WoodWorks will publish the complete results in 2017.

Tall Wood 101: Teaching Design Professionals About Wood in Building

Although steel and concrete skyscrapers typically fill modern city skylines, architects and engineers are beginning to reconsider the benefits of using wood as a material for tall  buildings.

The Finlandia Prize-winning Puukuokka apartment building was built with prefabricated modules of CLT.

The Finlandia Prize-winning Puukuokka apartment building is an example of wood construction instead of steel and concrete.

But in order for society to reap those benefits, building design and construction professionals need to get smart on how to make tall wood buildings a reality.

A new factsheet published by the USDA Forest Service, titled Teaching Design Professionals About Wood In Building, presents two brief case studies of organizations providing such education–Michael Green Architecture and WoodWorks.

The work being done here at the Forest Products Laboratory is also key to making these sky-high efforts a success.

Take a look to learn more about the efforts of these organizations and USDA to promote the use of wood, along with a few fast facts and links to additional resources.

Mass Timber Research Workshop Presentations Available Online!

The Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) recently hosted the inaugural Mass Timber Research Workshop in cooperation with Woodworks – Wood Products Council. During the two-day event, more than 120 national and international attendees, including 26 presenters, gathered to learn about cross laminated timber (CLT) and how its design and use can further green building efforts while also aiding in forest restoration activities.

CLT concept and use in a nine-story mid-rise building in London.

CLT concept and use in a nine-story mid-rise building in London.

If you weren’t able to attend the workshop, never fear! The presentations are now available for viewing on FPL’s website. A broad range of topics related to CLT were covered, from fire safe design to seismic performance to timber-concrete composites.

Dig in and learn about this new era of wood construction. If you’re interested in learning even more, sign up to register for the upcoming Mass Timber Conference being held in Portland, Oregon, in March 2016.