Assessment of Cross Laminated Timber Markets for Hardwood Lumber

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Virginia Tech


The goal of this study was to assess the potential of using hardwood lumber in CLT manufacturing. The goal was achieved by addressing four specific objectives. The first objective was to collect CLT manufacturers' perspectives for using hardwood lumber in the current manufacturing setup. The second objective was to determine hardwood sawmills' current ability to produce structural grade lumber (SGHL) from low value logs as a product mix through a survey of hardwood lumber producers in the US. The third objective was to conduct a log yield study of SGHL production from yellow poplar (YP) logs to produce 6'' and 8'' width SGHL to match the PRG 320 requirements. The fourth objective was to determine CLTs' production cost using SGHL and compared it with the CLTs manufactured from southern yellow pine (SYP).

The results suggest that all three CLT industries visited and interviewed had sufficient technology to produce hardwood CLTs. The production of hardwood CLTs was mainly limited by the quality and quantity of lumber available. The hardwood sawmill survey results indicated that, currently, less than 10% of the sawmills had all the resources required to produce SGHL. The current ability of the sawmills was measured based on the resources necessary to begin SGHL production. Forty percent of the sawmills would require an investment in sawing technology to saw SGHL, 70% would require employing a certified lumber grader, and 80% would require a planer to surface lumber. Another significant finding was the sawmills' willingness to collaborate with other sawmills and lumber manufacturers. More than 50% of sawmills were open to potential collaboration with other stakeholders if necessary, which is crucial to commercializing SGHL for a new market.

The log yield study of yellow poplar helped demonstrate that the mixed grade lumber production method to convert lumber from lower quality zones as SGHL yields higher lumber volume for sawmills and at the same time reduces lower-grade lumber volume. On average, SGHL production increased lumber volume by more than 6% compared to only NHLA grade lumber production when 65% of the lumber was converted to SGHL. The volume of lower lumber grades from 2 common and below decreased from an average of 85% to less than 30% when producing SGHL as a product mix with NHLA grade lumber. This study observed more than 95% of SGHL as Number 3 and better lumber grades. At estimated lumber value, 2x6 and 2x8 SGHL and NHLA grade lumber production as product mix from a log generate higher revenue for all log groups except for the diameter 13" logs. A lower percentage of higher-grade lumber was observed for diameter 13’’ logs than other log groups from this experiment, which resulted in lower revenue.

Production cost of CLTs was determined based on the lumber value to manufacture 40' x 10' plain panels with different combinations by lumber grade of yellow poplar and southern yellow pine lumber alone. Production cost was determined by assuming that lumber value contributes 40% of CLTs' total production cost. The 3- ply CLT panels were manufactured using S. Selects lumber in a major direction, and No 1-grade lumber in the minor direction from YP had a production cost of $662.56 per cubic meter, which cost only $643.10 when SYP lumber was used at referenced lumber value. This study concludes that CLT panels from YP cost 3-7 % more than SYP-CLTs at the referenced lumber values.



Cross-Laminated Timber, Hardwood Lumber Manufacturing, CLT Manufacturing, Structural Grade Hardwood Lumber Production, Hardwood Sawmills Survey, Yellow Poplar Log Yield, Production Cost of CLTs