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May 2024

Annual Report 2023 now available

The Annual Report for 2023 is now available for download from the BC website. It highlights a vast number of projects from regenerative agriculture in the TRIP project to advanced packaging from seaweed extracts. It also includes reported from visits to Uganda, Ethiopia, Brazil, Crete and Malaysia.

Always a showcase for the diverse activities and engagements by the Centre, the report also features the return of the IPPS conference as well as trade events, workshops, cultural events and conferences as well as updates on staff. Download the report here.

April 2024

Wood Modification Experts gather in Italy

Dr Morwenna Spear caught up with our most recently completed PhD student Dr Carlo Kupfernagel at ECWM11 in Florence this month. It was great to see Carlo present some of his work using NMR techniques to study modified wood in the Analysis session on Day 2 of the conference. Carlo's thesis considered many aspects of wood modification using PUF resins, looking at chemical interactions, processing conditions and effects of scale on the physical properties and cell wall changes.

The European Conference on Wood Modification is the must-attend event of the calendar for those engaged in research in wood modification - whether thermal modification or chemical modification, and increasingly a raft of other modification systems. The event featured a stunning lineup of speakers for the New Trends session, for example, considering nanostructured composites based on wood with extended functionality. The opportunity to capture the hierarchical structure of wood has been capilatised on for biomimetic products as well as switchable solar transmittance and many other high-tech developments.

Dr Spear made use of the opportunity to showcase work on laser incision for timber treatment. In the case of wood modification it is not possible to rely on envelope treatments or to allow imperfect distribution of the treatment fluids in the wood. Laser incision offers the chance to work with the 'harder to treat' species.

The conference was excellently organised, and crammed full of scientific presentations! The location provided two amazing evening networking events, and all delegates returned home with plenty to think about.

September 2023

London Calling

We have a busy week of meetings in London this month, starting in the House of Lords on Monday the 11th September with Dr. Viacheslav Tverezovskiy exhibiting our research on natural biodegradable packaging materials and highlighting our projects with Plantsea Ltd and Pulpex.

On Thursday Prof Graham Ormondroyd will be at Welsh Government's London Office for an Energy Day event. Here he will be talking about our research on bio-based insulation materials linked to our Living Lab project with housing association ADRA.

And finally Dr Rob Elias will be attending the TTJ Awards on Friday with MDF Recovery Ltd, and will be promoting our International Panel Products Symposium (IPPS 2023) held on the 3rd and 4th of October. Watch out for updates on X (@BCmaterials).

August 2023

Artist working with local natural materials

Local artist Manon Awst has been collaborating with the BioComposites Centre to develop works using natural materials. The project 'Sticky Sculptures' is inspired by the peat fens on the West of Anglesey and Traeth Mawr near Porthmadog. Materials such as mussel shells, grass and algae from the sites have been investigated and experimented with to create a response to the place. Outputs include an exhibition at Plas Brondanw, which overlooks the polder which inspired the work, as well as a talk and open day.

As part of the research process, Manon, who is currently studying for a PhD at Bangor University, has been working with materials specialist Dr Simon Curling from the BioComposites Centre to investigate the textures, forms and properties of natural materials connected to the two sites. Manon has used equipment and facilities from BC to transform these materials, and bring them together to develop new sculptural composites for her current body of work and beyond.

Manon's exhibition 'Wetland Dreams'/'Breuddwidion Gorsiog' is running at Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, until 16th September. The work is supported by the Arts Council for Wales within their Creative Nature colaboration with Natural Resources Wales.

July 2023

BioComposites Centre at WoodBuild

Part of the BC Materials team took a display to WoodBuild in Lampeter to showcase their work testing capabilities. The event, which was organised by WoodKnowledge Wales, was well attended by businesses from across Wales, including sawmills, housebuilders, architects, a wide range of training providers and policy makers. This led to some excellent conversations and opportunities to discuss pressing issues in the timber frame housing sector, the forest industry and the way timber can contribute to solving the climate crisis.

BC has a long-standing relationship with WoodKnowledge Wales, so we were pleased to support this event and see such a good mix of delegates gaining from the presentations and events. Dr Morwenna Spear, from BC, contributed to a forest walk, led by experts from a team convened over the winter to consider the future challenges for forestry in Wales. The trip visited Longwood Community Forest to discuss future climate and species resilience, while also introducing some basic forestry concepts to the architects, engineers and designers present.

March 2023

Tree Sense exhibition features BioComposites Centre research

Researchers from the BioComposites Centre are showcasing their work at Tree Sense exhibition in Pontio, Bangor. The installation includes images from scientific studies of timber treatments, properties and chemistry, alongside the natural world and explores links between the bio-inspiration for technological developments. Other exhibits explore research from the University, creative writing and artworks commissioned for the event, there is plenty to see and explore.

The opening night, on Friday 3rd May, was a great success, featuring multi-disciplinary contributions from artists, scientists, poets, musicians, ecologists and tree enthusiasts. The exhibition runs until 27th May, including various in-person workshops and performances. Tree Sense has recieved funding and support from HEFCW, UKCEH, Arts Council for Wales, Lottery, Welsh Government, Coed Lleol and the University.

October 2022

BioComposites Centre moves buildings

The BioComposites Centre offices have been relocated to the Memorial Building on the Science Site at Bangor University, as of 14th October.

Safety concerns have rapidly brought forward the University's decision to close the Alun Roberts Tower to prepare it for demolition. As a consequence, the BioComposites Centre has moved and set up its offices in the Memorial Building nearby.

While the office space has been rapidly re-established, there will be some disruption to our day to day laboratory activity. We are managing the migration of laboratory facilities as best we can, and keeping our project partners, clients and other contacts informed of any interruptions. Many of our facilities in Mona and materials characterisation are continuing to run as normal. Do contact us if you have queries about impact on current or future work.

We would also like to say a big thank you to all our staff that helped in the move!

As the migration within campus is relatively small any post sent to Alun Roberts Building will still reach us, and telephone numbers will continue to work. Our new postal address is:

The BioComposites Centre, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW

New dates announced for IPPS 2023

The International Panel Products Symposium (IPPS) will return to Llandudno in 2023. The dates for the event are 3rd and 4th October, and the venue will be the Imperial Hotel.

Further details and the call for papers will be available on our website shortly. Call back soon for more information.

September 2022

Research opportunities with us

We are currently offering two Masters by Research (MRes) studentships through the KESS2 programme. Successful applicants would start this autumn. These projects link with industrial companies and give the opportunity for research that will deliver innovation and sustainability to real life challenges. Both opportunities are within the BC Materials group in Bangor but with time spent at the partner company. The full descriptions and application instructions can be read on the links below.

Understanding the environment profile of Welsh wool for non-textile applications. This project will use life cycle assessment (LCA) to assess the environmental profile of processed British sheep's wool. The project is supported by British Wool.

Development of laser-aided timber drying. This project will investigate the potential of laser incision for improving timber permeability and treatability. This project is supported by Millennium Lasers.

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.

August 2022

BC authors contribute book chapter on wool for composites

A new book on wool-based composites has been published by Elsevier this month. Wool Fiber Reinforced Composites is now available on pre-order from the publisher. The title is edited by Sabu Thomas and Seiko Jose, and a chapter was contributed by BC scientists Simon Curling and Graham Ormondroyd. The chapter on Moisture interactions of wool and wool-based composites includes many insights into water sorption on sheep's wool, based on pioneering research at the BioComposites Centre. The implications for wool in composites are considered.

July 2022

Exciting return to in-person Timber 2022 conference

BC staff and students contributed three presentations at the recent Timber 2022 conference in London. The event, organised by the Wood Technology Group of the IOM3, was a great success, spanning the extremely broad range of UK timber research. A highlight of the day was the keynote address by Matthew Caldwell and Natasha Watson, of Buro Happold, considering the challenges and opportunities of engineering with timber.

KESS 2 funded PhD student Carlo Kupfernagel presented his work on widening the species mix for resin modification systems. BC’s Head of Materials Research Graham Ormondroyd posed a series of questions and challenges for decarbonising the timber industries, and presented some areas where timber and paper have led the way towards a circular economy. Morwenna Spear also provoked discussion on the topic of carbon accounting, carbon sequestration and displacement.

January 2022

SMART Cymru supports collaboration to develop food-safe preservatives from mushroom by-products

A project funded by SMART Cymru, with collaboration between Pennotec and the BioComposites Centre, will develop food-safe preservatives from mushroom by-products. Stalks and trimmings are an unavoidable by-product of mushroom production, with mushroom farmers disposing of tens of tonnes of trimmings and associated compost every week. Fungi are a sustainable source of chitosans – natural fibres with anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, which are mainly produced in multi-thousand tonne per annum quantities from crustacean shells.

A collaboration between Pennotec (Pennog Ltd) and the BioComposites Centre (Bangor University) and the Centre for Environmental Biotechnology (Bangor University) aims to research environmentally sustainable methods for the preparation of high quality, food grade chitosans from mushroom trimmings. Through the application of advanced analytical techniques and expertise available at Bangor University, the Project team aims to determine whether the Pennotec’s bio-refining techniques can produce chitosans that are free of traces of compost.

If successful, this project could bring new products to the market, increasing productivity and help to reduce economic and environmental costs. It is anticipated that two new jobs will be created to support the process scale-up.

The Project Consortium acknowledges the support from European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government.

January 2020

Completed KTP Associateship with Lignia

BC staff celebrated with Bronia Stefanowski as she completed her two-year KTP Associateship with Lignia Wood Company Ltd. Her work during the placement, which has successfully embedded knowledge and new technical methods into the company, gained praise from both academic and company supervisors at the closing meeting. Bronia is pictured presenting a selection of results from her work at the Timber 2019 conference last year.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme allows recent graduates, or recent postgraduates, to be placed with a company to address challenges or development opportunities identified by the company, with funding and support from Innovate UK. If you are interested in working with BC and securing a KTP Associate for your company, do speak to our project managers to find out more.

December 2019

PhD studentship opportunity

We are currently advertising for a PhD student on the field of chemistry and wood science to work with us and Lignia Wood Company. The project will consider the interaction of synthetic resins with wood under different curing conditions, and the influence of many parameters (e.g. species, temperature, pH etc) on curing reactions and the resulting properties of treated wood. Wood modification offers an alternative to chemical preservatives for timber, and has created a new generation of high performance timber products for advanced applications.

The opportunity would suit a candidate with a keen interest in wood science, chemistry or materials science. Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact supervisors Dr Morwenna Spear or Dr Graham Ormondroyd to discuss the project.

Funding has been awarded through the KESS 2 programme, and the full advert can be found on the KESS 2 website.

October 2019

British Mycology Society prize for Debbie Evans

BC staff member Debbie Evans is part of a team of 5 amateur mycologists "The Welsh Rust Group" who have been awarded The British Mycological Society's Field Mycology Award in recognition of an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of Field Mycology. This is only the second time the award has been made. The award was presented to 4 of the group at a BMS event in Porth Talbot on 19th October by the previous recipient Geoffrey Kibby.

The group have a passion for some of the plant-pathogenic fungi, (mainly but not solely found on wild plants). They have written 3 books about these fungi in Wales beginning with a Rust Red Data List and Census Catalogue for Wales in 2015, followed by Smut & Allied Fungi of Wales, a RDL and census catalogue in 2018, and The Powdery Mildews of Wales: An identification guide and census catalogue in 2019. They are currently preparing a book on the Downy Mildews and Albugos. The main aim of the group is to increase the awareness of the importance of these fungi and encourage their identification and recording in Wales and beyond by providing easily accessible, free or affordable books. The books are also all available to download freely from (listed under the first author Woods/Chater).

The group were given certificates and a monetary prize of £500 which will be used towards future publishing costs. The group are all very proud that the BMS has chosen to recognise their efforts in this way.

BC celebrates 30 years at IPPS 2019

IPPS 2019 was an opportunity for the staff of BC and long-time supporters of the conference to celebrate the long track record of the conference, and the Centre. Mike Botting, Editor Emeritus of Wood Based Panels International was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his excellent coverage of the EPPS and IPPS events over many years. He was one of several delegates who had been present at the first EPPS conference in 1997. Two others returned as speakers this year: Dr Mark Irle and Prof Edmone Roffael. The conference dinner quiz featured some photos from the archives to test people's memories and recognition skills.

Also awarded at the conference dinner was the Harry Earl Memorial Prize. This year two recipients from Kastamonu shared the prize, Mrs Kübra Çelic and Mr Aziz Biçer. Plaques to commemorate the prize were presented by Dr Rob Elias (BC), Keith Godber (CRC) and Chris Ryan (Kronospan).

During the two- day conference delegates enjoyed a wide range of talks on research, development and future issues in wood based panels. The keynote speech by Marcel Vroege of Indufor provided some food for thought on fibre availability and rapid development of the wood based panels market in China, India and other ememging economies. The need to innovate and maximise efficiency in production, recycling and circular approaches were well explored in other talks, and leave the challenge for research and industry. We are looking forward to seeing this progress at IPPS 2021!

August 2019

Advanced wood chemistry course for Malaysian visitors

BC continued to build links with the Malaysian Timber Industry Board, welcoming three delegates on an Advanced Wood Chemistry shourt course this month. Organised by BC Materials the topics included the composition of softwoods and hardwoods; laboratory techniques for quantification of the wood principal components and extractives; Formaldehyde testing methods and VOC monitoring; spectroscopy, chromatography and a wide range of analytical techniques suited to wood, resins and wood based composites.

The three delegates enjoyed an intense two week course, which included a full programme of laboratory practicals, seminars and a site visit. There was also plenty of time for discussion of extra topics, and to try out different analytical equipment. A site visit to PPM Technology, a local manufacturer of formaldehyde monitors, and sensors for many other VOCs was a highlight, where they had a guided tour and heard about the wide range of sensors offered by the company for many applications. The trip led to some sight-seeing in the nearby historic town of Caernarfon to complete the visit.

July 2019

Strong representation at Timber 2019 conference

Members of the BC Materials team presented several papers at Timber 2019 in London this month. The event was organised by the Wood Technology Society, within which Dr Graham Ormondroyd is chair of the board and a driving force behind the event. The two days led to a very wide programme of talks and presentations, and stimulated some spirited debate between delegates on challenges facing the timber industry in the UK. Talks by BC staff included current and recent research projects, such as laser incision of timber to enhance treatment systems, treatments to promote adhesion in jointing Wood Plastic Composites and weathering studies on resin modified wood.

Commenting after the event, Dr Ormondroyd said 'It was great to see the UK's wood science community come together again to showcase the work that is been undertaken nationally, and with our visitors from the USA the program was truly inspirational.'

VOC scavenging by sheep's wool

Research undertaken by the BioComposites Centre into how sheep's wool scavenges VOCs from the atmosphere was highlighted by the Daily Mail. The investigation compared the wool from different sheep, and several different volatile organic compounds (VOCs) representing the range found in household products such as paints, air fresheners, cleaning fluids and furniture. Sheep's wool performed well, scavenging the VOCs, and two forms of sorption were detected. Both will contribute to a reduced VOC content in indoor air, prompting interest in the use of wool carpets, curtains and soft furnishings to help reduce indoor air pollution, which can be connected to sick building syndrome.

May 2019

Journal paper from Short Term Scientific Mission with FP1407

We're pleased to see a paper by Dr Magdalena Broda from Poznań University of Life Sciences in Poland published this month. Dr Broda visited BC on a Short Term Scientific Mission with FP1407 in August 2018 to investigate the fundamental properties of silane modified archaeological wood. She worked with Dr Morwenna Spear and Dr Simon Curling using a range of techniques including DVS, nitrogen sorption and DMA.

In this first paper cell wall porosity and vapour sorption were investigated. The paper "The effect of methyltrimethoxysilane impregantion on the cell wall porosity and vapour sorption of archaeological waterlogged oak" has been published in Wood Science and Technology.

December 2018


BioComposites Centre is now launching a new platform of research on crop biostimulants and biofungicides, using marine resources (seaweeds, microalgae, marine plants, etc), and other terrestrial biomass that would growth on coastal regions.

The BioNASPA project will investigate crop biostimulants. These are plant nutrients that, when added in minute amounts, can increase crop production, reducing the negative impact of stress.

Biofungicides are natural products that can control plant diseases, and in our particular case, would act as vaccines for plants (making them immune to diseases) or modify the soil microbiome (providing lots of "good bacteria" to plants).

More details:

October 2018

New book about natural materials and design

A new book published by CRC Press this September features chapters by the BC team. Designing with Natural Materials provides a useful text for those in design, materials science, materials engineering and sutainability. Edited by Dr Graham Ormondroyd (BC) and Angela Morris (the Wool Packaging Company) who are both active members of the Natural Materials Association, the book presents a broad basis for understanding materials selection, life cycle, aesthetics and performance. In a time when sustainability and environmental impact are of great interest to designers, the vast array of natural materials and emerging bio-based materials presents many options. The book is designed to bridge the gap between current scientific knowledge of materials properties and materials design considerations.

Chapters by BC staff include Natural Materials - Composition and Combinations (Morwenna Spear), Designing with the Life Cycle in Mind (Campbell Skinner) and Emerging Nature-based Materials and their Use in New Products (Morwenna Spear).

March 2018

Job oportunity at BC on ProEnrich project

An exciting opportunity to join the team at BC on the BBI joint undertaking funded Pro-Enrich project. BC are seeking to recruit a Research Officer with a background in enzymology to investigate the fractionation of a range of biomass co-product steams into valuable components, including functional proteins. Further details about the post can be found on the Bangor University website, and informal enquiries about the post can be made by contacting Dr Adam Charlton (tel: +44 (0) 1248 388072, e-mail:

The project will demonstrate novel combinations of improved upstream pre-processing and enzymatic treatments to reduce costs and improve efficiency for isolating such value added products. The project consortium consists of partners from 7 countries across Europe, and represents the whole supply chain, including biomass production, processors and several industrial end-users.

The successful candidate will be a driven and talented individual with a strong interest in multi-disciplinary research and will be expected to commence employment on the 1st May 2018, or as soon as possible thereafter. The closing date for applications is 28th March 2018.

February 2018

Bio-based materials for construction and other non-energy uses

The BioComposites Centre has been selected to lead a consortium to deliver a review on 'The potential for using bioenergy resources for construction and other non-energy uses' for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This review will feed into the updated Bioenergy Review 2018, which will be published by the CCC in the autumn.

The consortium has brought together leading experts in timber and bio-based materials (BC), Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental Products Declarations (JCH Industrial Ecology, Renuables) and Carbon accounting and Discounting (Professor Colin Price). The team will deliver a review of biomass use and availability in the UK, and its potential role in greenhouse gas abatement strategies. The study will include a deep review of the carbon accounting of using sequestered carbon (timber) in construction.

Dr Graham Ormondroyd, Head of Materials Research at the BioComposites Centre commented 'through our links with the industry and industrial associations the team will be able to give an in-depth analysis of the sector and a robust evaluation of the environmental benefits of the increased use of timber in construction. It is a fantastic opportunity for Bangor University to help shape the policy around future building stock towards green building and the use of timber.'

January 2018

Success for BC PhD students

Over the last month The BioComposites Centre has seen two of its PhD students take and pass their final examinations.

Bronia Stefanowski completed research in the area of improving indoor air quality through the use of modified wood panels. Bronia was examined in late December by Dr Martin Ansell of the University of Bath and Dr Lone Ross Gobakken of NIBIO, Norway.

Elie Mansour undertook research into the use of wool insulation as an absorber of VOCs and was examined in January 2018. Elie was examined by Prof. Pete Walker from University of Bath and Dr Andy Dengel of BRE.

Both Bronia and Elie were praised for the quality of their theses by their examiners. They both will graduate in July 2018.

October 2017

Using Lasers to improve the modification of wood

Fibre 7 UK Ltd, Millennium Lasers Ltd, Bangor University and Coventry University received £1.2 million of co-funding from the UK's innovation agency Innovate UK in September 2017. The consortium brings together laser and wood specialists to improve permeability and processing of timbers during resin treatment. Treatment using resin is one of a growing platform of wood modification technologies which can alter the properties and service life of timber for use in demanding environments or to enhance aesthetics.

Patterns of micro-incisions will be made in the faces of wood prior to treatment to improve penetration of resin into wood pieces. This will enable a greater range of timber species to be modified, including those growing in the UK. Since lasers are able to 'drill fine holes' then with the appropriate pattern of incisions it is believed that an even distribution of fluid can be achieved to considerable depths.

Andy Pitman, Fibre 7's Technical Director believes 'this laser-drilling offers significant benefits for our wood treatment process increasing the range of timbers we can employ and the section sizes we can modify.' He added 'The technology offers others needing to impregnate timbers with fluids such as wood preservatives an additional tool, since far less damage will be caused using lasers compared with mechanical incising meaning it can be used on joinery timbers'. The project runs through to December 2019.

September 2017

MDF Recovery Ltd shortlisted for Innovation Award 2017

MDF Recovery's MD Craig Bartlett and BC Director Rob Elias are attending the Timber Trade Journals awards in London on the 29th of September 2017. Craig's company is short listed in the Timber Innovation category for Innovative Product Development which is sponsored by Timber Expo and TRADA.

MDF Recovery works closely with the Centre to develop a range of products that utilise the recycled MDF fibre. "Through an InnovateUK funded project we helped Craig dry and resinate fibre using our pilot scale MDF line. This work really showed how we can use recycled fibres to make new products. The project demonstrated that closed loop recycling is really possible so I hope he stands a chance of winning" explained Rob. MDF Recovery is up against three other nominees, Actis Insulation, Chalkbarn Natural Products and Simonin SAS so we will keep our fingers crossed for success.

August 2017

BC scientists contribute to new book on the Performance of Bio-based Building Materials

A new book on the performance of bio-based materials has been published recently. Originating out of the COST action FP1303 Performance of Bio-based Building Materials, it brings together the state of the art on the topic. Edited by Dennis Jones and Christian Brischke, the book features contributions from over 60 top researchers from across Europe, and includes significant input from scientists in the BioComposites Centre.

Chapters include:

  • Wood as a material
  • Nonwood materials
  • Protection of bio-based materials
  • Performance of bio-based materials
  • Performance of buildings
  • Test methods for bio-based materials
  • Modelling
  • Environmental assessment of bio-based materials

Four of these chapters include contributions from BC staff, Dr Simon Curling and Dr Graham Ormondroyd, with additional contributions by BC PhD students Elie Mansour and Bronia Stefanowski. Dr Curling also acted as chapter lead for the Test methods for bio-based materials chapter.

The book is available from Elsevier Publishing.

June 2017

BREAD4PLA project wins EU award

BREAD4PLA, a green science and technology project in which Bangor University's research played a significant role, has been awarded one of the two "Green Awards" as one of the best LIFE Environment Projects of the last 25 years. Read more

April 2017

BC host training school organised for COST Action FP 1407: Modwoodlife

The BioComposites Centre recently hosted 15 Phd students and early career researchers from across Europe at a training school organised for COST Action FP 1407: Modwoodlife. The overarching themes of the school were to discuss how Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) can be used with modified wood, and how the properties of modified wood can be characterised and tested. Following an introduction to Bangor from Dr Graham Ormondroyd of BC there was a brief introduction session where all participants talked about their own work background. Then Professor Callum Hill of NIBIO and Campbell Skinner of BC gave the students a thorough grounding into LCA of wood modification via presentations and discussion groups.

During the school Dr Morwenna Spear and Dr Simon Curling, both from BC, led practical sessions covering both thermal and acetylation treatments of woods. These treated samples were then further characterised in later experimental sessions, including investigating water uptake mechanisms and moisture vapour sorption. Both are key characteristics when looking at performance of the materials.

The training school was also very fortunate to have two trainers from CNR-Ivalsa in Italy, Dr Anna Sandak and Dr Jakub Sandak, who led some very interesting discussions on service life and the characterisation of the aesthetics of materials. Their innovative approach in investigating the “human factor” in the use of materials was an exciting addition to the training school. Modelling, both in predicting service life and durability, and in assisting architects to predict the appearance of timber facades over time, is an essential area, in which great progress has been made in recent years.

There was also a chance to showcase previous projects at BC and Bangor with a trip out to the recent Saltcote building at Halen Mon. The building features Welsh grown larch cladding. Over all it was a busy but very worthwhile three days where the students and trainers alike got to learn about and appreciate new methods and techniques for use with assessing modified wood.

March 2017

BC strongly involved in research on the performance of Biobased materials in buildings

The BioComposites Centre had a strong representation at the recent COST Action FP1303 ( Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria; with 5 of the papers and 2 of the posters presented featuring input from BC scientists.

The conference had a packed program of high quality research from both established and early career researchers and students from across Europe and was a clear example of the value of collaboration under the COST program. Dr Simon Curling presented a paper on the effects on product durability that combining different biobased materials can have within a constructed wall. Dr Curling later presented a poster detailing the work led by Drs Robert Elias and Graham Ormondroyd, that BC has been carrying out on recycling of MDF with the innovative British company MDF Recovery (

Dr Morwenna Spear gave a thought provoking presentation on using plant structure as a template and inspiration for design of materials and structures. This work forms part of the Welsh National Research Network for Low Carbon Energy and the Environment (NRN-LCEE) Plants and Architecture Cluster ( that BC are an integral part of, alongside Aberystwyth and Cardiff Universities. Dr Spear also presented a poster giving details of some of the work carried out by a visiting Romanian researcher, Rasia Teciu, during her visit to BC. This was on innovative lay-ups of timber to analyse stresses in the glue bond using cyclic conditions with and without surface coatings.

Dr Athanasios Dimitriou, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Fellow (currently working with Clifford Jones Timber ( in Ruthin and the BioComposites Centre), presented a paper on his work carried out on a Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) at CNR-IVALSA in Italy ( His work was on surface characterisation of spruce wood from a Pan-European round robin test coordinated by Dr Jakub Sandak in CNR-IVALSA. The analysis of FTIR spectra under the guidance of Dr Dimitriou’s host in Italy, Dr Jakub Sandak, is a good example of the benefits of collaborating and knowledge sharing under COST funded short term scientific missions, boosting the understanding of weathering and its regional trends within Europe. This presentation was followed by a second paper on the topic by Dr Sandak, introducing a modelling method for timber weathering built on this valuable dataset.

Finally, a presentation on “Emissions from biobased materials” was given by Dr Lothar Clauder from Eberswalde University in Germany. Dr Clauder visited BC on another STSM to work with Dr Graham Ormondroyd and Mr Elie Mansour and utilise the microchamber for VOC measurements. Dr Clauder’s work investigated the extent of emissions from materials used in cabinets intended to display sensitive museum artefacts.
The conference was a great success with the presence of BC staff demonstrating their in-depth knowledge of the wide-ranging subject area of bio-based materials. This is a small portion of the expertise that BC staff have in this important research area.

February 2017

Talking about wool with the University of the Third Age

On Thursday 2nd February, Dr Simon Curling gave a presentation to the University of the Third Age in Bangor. The University of the Third Age is an organisation for retired and semi retired members of the community.

Dr Curling spoke about some of the exciting developments in the use of wool for insulation and packaging systems, including a summary of some of the work carried out by BC in this area. The audience of nearly 100 local people were keen to ask many pertinent questions on the subject and to examine wool samples provided; the alpaca wool sample was a clear favourite due to its softness!

This was an excellent opportunity to get out of the lab and explain the science and recent developments with a knowledgeable audience, and was enjoyable as well!

January 2017

World first as recycling of MDF waste moves a step closer

The world's first ever technology to recycle MDF waste has moved a step closer to reality. MDF Recovery has successfully concluded proof of concept trials to develop a commercially viable process to recover wood fibre from waste MDF. It is the culmination of more than six years' research and development to create a technology which will offer the first alternative to the use of landfill or burning to dispose of MDF. Britain, alone, disposes around 350,000 tonnes of MDF each year.

MDF fibresThe solution generates a new raw material source for the wood/natural fibre industry that reduces the demand on standing forests. The recovered fibre is of the same high quality as virgin wood fibre and provides feedstock to the manufacturers of MDF board, insulation products and horticultural growing products.

Co-founder and Managing Director Craig Bartlett is now ready to take the proprietary technology to the commercial market. Craig, who established MDF Recovery in 2009, said: “We have already begun discussions with a number of leading companies and organisations operating in the MDF production and waste industries and look forward to progressing these during the early part of 2017. The recycling process we have developed is a genuine world first. There is no other environmentally friendly alternative to the use of landfill or burning to dispose of MDF waste. Our technology can be retro-fitted or designed into new plants and offers a robust solution for reworking waste and increasing the yield at the MDF manufacturing facility. Zero waste production is now a real possibility. The financial payback is dependent on the size of MDF plant but in larger plants is expected within 18 months. The technology can also process industrial and commercial forms of MDF waste, allowing manufacturers to take back material from their customers – a so called ‘closed loop’ solution.”

This has been particularly attractive to the retail sector which utilises significant amounts of MDF in shop fittings. MDF – medium density fibreboard – was first devised in the 1970s and today more than 50million tons are produced globally every year, servicing the furniture, construction and DIY markets. Prominent markets outside of the UK include Continental Europe, USA, Russia, Brazil and China. Demand is increasing in Eastern Europe and Asia. It is estimated that between 30,000 and 60,000 tons of MDF waste could be recycled by MDF Recovery each year in the UK and almost 3million tons globally.

Before establishing MDF Recovery with co-founder Jim New, Craig worked as Head of Research & Consultancy at the UK Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA), developing a wide range of technological solutions in partnership with industry and academia.

MDF RecoveryMDF Recovery has set up an advisory panel to help it commercialise the company’s technology. The panel includes Geoff Rhodes, widely recognised for his pioneering work in the timber industry, having driven the introduction of Medite MDF from the US into Britain before spending most of his career expanding the use of MDF in the UK and internationally. He is a former President of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), the European Association of MDF Manufacturers (EMB) and the Fibre Building Board Federation (FIDOR).

Other advisory panel members include Dr Knut Kappenberg, Dr Rob Elias and Ray Howard.

Knut Kappenberg has over 20 years’ experience within R&D, innovation management and technology transfer roles including seven years as Global R&D Manager at Sonae Industria, one of the largest global manufacturers of wood-based panel products.

Rob Elias is the Director of the BioComposites Centre (BC) at Bangor University. The Centre was established in 1989 and is focussed on the translation of applied science into commercial opportunity. It has been at the forefront of research, development and the commercial application of bio-based alternatives to synthetic materials in manufacturing and industry. He is also the chair of the International Panel Products Symposium.

Ray Howard is a businessman with over 40 years’ experience, mainly within manufacturing and related sectors including MDF. He has managed companies with turnovers ranging from £10m to £150m and is a specialist in strategic growth and business transformation.

The business has to date been funded via a mix of UK and Welsh Government, Angel Investor and Industrial funding.

BC working with WRAP Cymru to provide access to free research

BC is delighted to announce that it is working on an 18 month project with WRAP Cymru to support their Sustainable Resource Management Programme. Eligible Welsh companies will be able to access funding allowing them to use our services free of charge in order to improve their sustainability credentials.

The intention of WRAP Cymru’s Sustainable Resource Management Programme is to help deliver the Circular Economy in Wales by increasing recycling rates, reducing waste going to land fill and encouraging the use of recycled materials in manufacturing.  So if you want to know what to do with your waste, its chemical composition, recycling potential or how you could substitute an existing raw material with a ‘recycled’ one this could be the ideal opportunity for you. 

BC has a long track record of developing products from 'recycled' materials including electrical items, wood, packaging, textiles, construction waste, agricultural by-products, food waste and chemicals etc. Through this WRAP Cymru programme your company can access that expertise. For initial discussions about what BC can offer, please contact Dr Graham Ormondroyd. More information can also be found here.