Cascading Use of Wood to Ensure Sustainability (December 12, 2017)

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are using data from a European research project to analyze the potential efficiency of multiple use between harvesting and combustion of wood.

Does the cascading use of wood really lead to increased resource efficiency? For example, if the raw wood is first used to make construction elements, then slats for a table, and finally chipped and turned into chipboard before being burned for energy in a power plant? To answer this question, Michael Risse and Professors Gabriele Weber-Blaschke and Klaus Richter from the Chair of Wood Science at TUM set out to find suitable assessment methods.

A cascading system composed of many suppliers, manufacturers and users is complex and costly. The material flows within and between the cascade steps are numerous and interwoven. As a theory, the concept has been described for years and has also been scientifically proven to save fossil resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase value. But so far, a targeted examination of resource efficiency has not yet been performed. Since biologically generating wood differs fundamentally from producing synthetic raw materials, it is important to examine whether and to what extent cascading use of renewable raw materials pays off in terms of efficiency.

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