Construction of the A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Lab is underway on the Oregon State University campus. The new lab will add 15,000 square-feet of structural testing space to the Oregon State College of Forestry, which already boasts some of the best technical research facilities in the nation.
A new state-of-the-art space
The laboratory will also be home to a 2,500 square-foot advanced wood products manufacturing area, a flexible demonstration and classroom area and the TallWood Design Institute offices.
“There are a variety of ways research and teaching can intersect in this new space,” says Arijit Sinha, associate professor of renewable materials at Oregon State. “When we complete large-scale tests, we will need an army of undergraduate helpers. It will be a great experiential learning opportunity for students, while at the same time offering us new, world-class capabilities to test buildings at full scale.”
Juliana Ruble, former advanced wood products lab manager and project engineer for Andersen Construction, agrees.
“The new lab will provide space for architects, engineers, wood products manufacturers and researchers to come together and develop new products and new building systems designs,” she says.
A CNC panel processing center will be capable of creating large panels and straight beams as well as curved beams and other, smaller wood products. Another robotic machine will expand architectural fabrication opportunities.
A strong floor for large tests
A 60-by-80-foot strong wall and reaction floor system will facilitate testing of up to three-story wood structures.
The strong floor and accompanying reaction wall are composed of four-foot thick concrete. Anchors are attached to the floor and wall on a four-by-four-foot grid. Each anchor has a 60-kip capacity for a total of 240 kips for each cluster of four anchor points. The reaction wall is capable of withstanding a 150-kip reaction while the floor can withstand 500-kip compression across a twelve-inch diameter area.
“Our strong floor will be one of the largest related to wood and timber research in the U.S.,” Sinha says. “We will use the floor and reaction wall to test materials and structures. The strong base of the floor mimics a rigid surface during tests.”
Oregon State and TDI researchers anticipate using the facility to conduct seismic tests, connection tests, wall connection tests, loading tests and more.
“We do these tests now on a smaller scale,” Ruble says. “This new facility will more than double our research capacity while increasing our manufacturing research capabilities and our ability to bring in industry, students and stakeholders to learn in an applied research environment.”
Making connections, continuing research
Sinha researches connections within mass-timber buildings, and will continue this work inside the new lab. His current project focuses on nondestructive evaluation of mass-timber by exposing connection materials to extremes of modular and biological exposure on two different species of CLT.
Sinha will also assess how wood buildings react to biological attack including fungi. The research project is funded by the USDA, and the team includes collaborators from Portland State University.
“The results will be incorporated into building codes,” Sinha says. “This project is important because it will tell us how things play out overtime in wood buildings with intrusion of moisture.”