SuperBark Consortium Explores Wood Performance Tests at Holzforschung Austria

The SuperBark Project, a pioneering research initiative focused on harnessing the potential of softwood bark-based components for adhesives and coatings, recently convened for its second consortium meeting hosted by Holzforschung Austria in Vienna between 5th-6th of March 2024. The largest wood research and testing institute in Austria, Holzforschung Austria offered the consortium a unique opportunity to tour its state-of-the-art wood testing facilities and continue the collaborative efforts with the consortium partners.

Our second consortium meeting, coordinated by Holzforschung Austria, continues the groundbreaking SuperBark research and innovation initiative funded by the  Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU)  under Horizon Europe. 

Gearing Up to Speed

The second SuperBark consortium meeting, organized by Holzforschung Austria, served as a pivotal event for sharing initial progress and fostering collaboration among the partner organizations. The face-to-face interaction facilitated dynamic group discussions on the progress and next steps for each work package. The meeting also provided a chance to engage with experts who were not present during the September kick-off. 

An Introduction to Holzforschung Austria

The consortium meeting included an introduction tour of the Holzforschung Austria (HFA) research institute. Founded in 1948, HFA stands as the largest wood research and testing facility in Austria, which actively addresses the entire value chain of wood—from forest storage and processing to different end products. Wood coatings are a major part of the institute´s research work, as demonstrated by the large number of publications and past and ongoing research projects in close collaboration with industrial partners. During SuperBark, HFA will leverage bark-based cellulose nanofibers and polyphenols to develop innovative coating formulations for wood products in close collaboration with Adler, a key industrial partner in the project. 

Exploring the Wood Testing Laboratory

Our visit included an enlightening tour of the HFA test centre in Stetten, just outside central Vienna. This testing facility operates as an external R&D department, conducting projects in cooperation with both small and large companies. The organisation covers a wide variety of tests for wood-based materials, surface coatings, wood preservatives and adhesives. These include tests related to material chemistry, building physics, wood protection and biology – even burglary-resistance – all to determine product performance and safety. 

SuperBark’s bark-based coatings and adhesive products are poised to undergo rigorous testing in the HFA laboratory. The SuperBark Project will especially benefit from HFA’s capabilities in toxicology, emissions, recyclability, and biodegradability testing, which will support our goal of improving the sustainability, health and safety profiles of adhesive and coating products compared to fossil-based solutions. 

The next steps for the project include further optimising the alkaline extraction from the pine bark raw material, verifying the recovery of bark-based polyphenols and cellulose nanofibers, and to begin downstream processing and testing of the bark-based components. 

A big thank you to Holzforschung Austria for hosting our second consortium meeting and showcasing your wood testing expertise!  

The SuperBark Consortium visited the Holzforschung Austria wood testing centre in Stetten.