In our second feature on this story, Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery talks to James Tyler of Tyler Hardwoods Ltd about an exicting new home-grown hardwood product to be installed at the Sylva Wood Centre.
The thermally-modified hardwood cladding will be used on the first building at the Sylva Wood Centre. The ash and sycamore cladding has been supplied by Tyler Hardwoods, sourced from woodlands in the south-west of Britain. The development of the product and its installation at the Sylva Wood Centre is supported by Grown in Britain.
Q. What are the technical aspects of the product you are suppling to the Sylva Wood Centre?
The timber supplied to the Sylva Foundation is thermally-modified English ash and sycamore, machined to a weather resistant horizontal T&G cladding board.
Q. How is wood thermally modified?
Thermally-modified timber is produced by heating timber to temperatures between 160 and 210°C in the absence of oxygen.
Thermal modification carbonizes free sugars making it less hospitable to organisms (such as wood-boring insects) that would break the timber down, which in turn makes the material more durable. The cabonizing process also thermally fixes the cell stucture making the timber less hydroscopic. This means that the structure is less likely to change shape as it takes on or looses water, therefore rendering the material more stable.
Q. What are the benefits of TM wood generally?
The technical improvements in the properties of the timber after thermal modification are significant, but there are also definite socio-economic and environmental benefits of the process for UK-grown timber, such as:
1.Providing a high value market for under-utilised hardwoods like beech, ash and sycamore.
2.Provides an economic incentive to woodland owners to bring their woodlands into management.
3.The market that the thermally modified product will create for round timber will in turn create associated jobs across the supply chain.
4.An alternative to less-sustainable tropical timbers.
Q. What is the source of the timber? Is it entirely home-grown and home-produced?
The timber for the cladding was sourced from the south-west and supplied by Tyler Hardwoods Ltd. It is either 100% FSC or FSC-controlled wood. Tyler Hardwoods have a Grown in Britain application approved and we are awaiting our audit by TRADA. The material supplied to the Sylva Wood Centre for the cladding is legally and sustainably sourced in the UK.
Currently the timber is modified in Europe as there is no thermal modification manufacturing plant in the UK. The transport to and from a plant in Europe adds significant cost, but it is important to do in order to adequately test the market, before a plant can be built in the UK.
Q. So there are plans to set up a UK thermal modification plant?
The development of the thermally-modified hardwood product is the result of a collaboration between Grown in Britain, Tyler Hardwoods Ltd, Vastern Timber and others including the BRE. We are currently conducting a feasibility study into the viability of a UK-based plant.
Q. Do you have any more of this material in stock?
Yes, we have just sent a second batch off to be treated. It includes beech and lime, as well as ash and sycamore.
Q. Tell me more about your business.
Tyler Hardwoods Ltd is a family-run business specialising in home-grown and imported hardwoods and specialist softwoods. Tyler Hardwoods also offers a specialist wood machining service including steam bending.
Tyler Hardwoods Ltd
Wilts SN8 3NE
Telephone: 01672 871300