May alder acquaintance be forgot

Ringing in 2024 with the latest in lumber-related news

Published January 1, 2024

Considering that people have been using wood for a million years or more, you might think there’s not much news left to report. But it still provides us material to build, create, and innovate, beating out human attempts at “better” and more “advanced” materials, time after time. So, chop-chop! Let’s see how wood is making the news. 

The wood-wind section 

The Swedish renewable energy company Modvion recently installed the world’s tallest wooden wind turbine, measuring 492 feet. The innovative turbines are made using spruce wood, and – like a massive IKEA project – are factory-manufactured in parts and assembled on-site later.

The manufacturer compresses the spruce wood with glue into laminated veneer lumber (LVL), with careful layering that allows them to control the flexibility and strength of each piece. The parts are then transported to the site and stacked up with steel fittings to build the tower.

The turbine isn’t the biggest in the world, far from it. A Chinese company recently unveiled the largest wind turbine, generating 384 megawatts-hours per day (enough to power 170,000 homes), but the downside is that it’s made of steel. Steel production uses fossil fuels that add to carbon emissions, so steel turbines solve one problem while creating another. Meanwhile, Modvion used 200 spruce trees to build their turbines, but they’ve planted more than they’ve harvested. Besides, wood is much lighter, meaning that taller towers can be built using less material, and with much less energy expended in transport. 

At any rate, the company better get planting lots of spruce forests—by 2027 the company wants to supply 100 towers, and more than 2,000 in the decade after that. 

From the woods to the stars

While 2,000-year-old tombs are often lousy with copper, metal, and bronze artifacts, it’s rare to find an almost-intact wooden piece of that age. But recently, archaeologists working in southwestern China unearthed a set of rectangular wooden artifacts believed to be linked to an ancient astronomical calendar. (Do people still use aliens.gif? -Ed.)

Each of the 23 wooden “slips” measures four inches long and an inch wide, and is marked with a Chinese character related to the Tiangan Dizhi, or “Ten Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches,” an astronomical calendar from the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE). Archaeologists believe that each slip represented one year of the calendar, but its mechanism is unclear. The practice of writing on strips of wood was common in China before the invention of paper. 

They should have made a “Model Tree”

A Vietnamese father/son team built a cool and functional Tesla Cybertruck (for fun!) with a body entirely made of wood. Making wooden vehicles is the focus of their Youtube channel, ND-WoodArt, on which the duo showcased the step-by-step making of the Cybertruck. The build took them 100 days.

Fans took to social media to praise the project, with one saying that the innovative creation should feature at Tesla HQ, and another saying that the creators should sell the thing as a puzzle. After ND-WoodArt asked for a repost from Elon Musk on we-still-call-it-Twitter, Musk replied (woodenly), “Sure, much appreciated.”