US Military Considers Mass Timber Advantages

2 April 2024

A groundbreaking partnership between the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and the Composite Recycling Technology Center (CRTC) is paving the way for a new mass timber product that would be more readily available in the United States and could also meet military needs abroad.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a mass timber product that has been available for years, but it requires high-quality lumber and unique manufacturing facilities. Using an innovative thermal modification process, CRTC created Advanced Cross-Laminated Timber (ACLT), which meets the CLT specifications while using Coastal Western Hemlock, a tree species common in the Pacific Northwest, making it much easier and more economical to source the material for U.S. projects.

“Mass timber has a lot of momentum in the Army right now,” said Dr. Pete Stynoski, research civil engineer at ERDC. “This project is trying to enable wider sourcing of Class IV materials for more resilient structures in both everyday use and in contested logistics scenarios.”

Using its expertise in construction methods, force protection and building technology, ERDC has helped refine concepts and provided rigorous testing at its state-of-the-art facilities, including fragment impact and seismic simulations. This will allow the Department of Defense (DOD) to gauge ACLT’s performance and reliability and ensure it aligns with military requirements.

The research project is studying how ACLT could be used to develop a highly durable, quick-erect building panel system for military housing. Stynoski notes thermally modified structural timber offers great potential to the military as it has the strength to be used for military construction and anti-terrorism/ force protection projects, as well as light frames designed for disassembly.

The University of Washington and Washington State University are supporting the work using advanced modeling.

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