Development of laser-aided timber drying
Location: The BioComposites Centre, Bangor University
Project ID: BUK2229
Annual Stipend: £11,937
Application Deadline: 26 October 2022
This project will investigate the potential of laser incision for improving timber permeability and treatability. Many timbers have poor permeability, leading to poor uptake of treatments such as fire retardants, preservatives or other liquids. The poor permeability can also lead to slow drying rates, and the potential for stress development, crack formation and development of defects during drying. Laser-incision offers enormous potential to alter the uptake and distribution of the treatment, and the quality of the product. However, laser incision has previously only been done on dried timbers, so a challenge remains in working with wood at moisture contents of 30% and above. Freshly sawn wood could have a moisture content of over 150%.
The postgraduate researcher will investigate laser parameters available to control incision in wet timber, minimising charring or other defects, while optimising efficiency of hole creation. The three main challenges are to consider energy associated with hole creation; speed of hole creation and appearance and dimensions (diameter, aspect ratio) of the resulting holes. Arrangement of hole patterns and efficiency of uptake for different timbers will also be investigated, to improve efficiency and replicability of the material – to offer maximum flexibility for the incision machine. The technology has enormous potential to reach both high value aesthetic applications and high throughput commodity applications.
We are seeking applicants with a science or technology degree in a suitable field (laser technology, engineering, materials science, physics or similar) and an interest in applying science and technology principles to this challenging research field. Relevant skills include a scientific approach to work, problem solving, familiarity with an engineering or design environment, laboratory or workshop practical experiments, experimental design, communication and reporting experiments.
The expected start date for this project is 1st November 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.
This project is supported by Millennium Lasers, Llandarcy, Neath, and company supervisor Paul Mason is a laser expert, managing a specialist laser manufacture and reconditioning service. A physicist by background, Paul Mason has previously worked on laser incision of wood with two Innovate UK funded projects, for timber treatment applications.
Both academic supervisors for this project are experienced researchers, working with timber and other bio-based materials, often in industrial contexts. Dr Morwenna Spear works with timber modification, process control in timber kilning and related technologies. Dr Graham Ormondroyd is head of Materials Research at the BioComposites Centre, and manages a large portfolio of research work, including wood modification, wood based panels, energy efficient structures and decarbonisation of industrial processes.
To apply :
Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.
Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in the Convergence Area of Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.