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Metsä Wood develops hybrid wall for Swedish market

 Saturday, March 16, 2024

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Metsä Wood develops hybrid wall for Swedish market

The Swedish concrete element manufacturer Heidelberg Materials Precast Contiga and Metsä Wood have developed a revolutionary hybrid wall element with a lower carbon footprint than conventional concrete wall elements. Now, the element solution is ready for use in real construction projects. “We are experiencing increased demands from our customers for environmentally smart solutions. The idea is that this serves as a great addition to our portfolio,” says Daniel Eriksson, Division Manager at Heidelberg Materials Precast Contiga.

Impact on the overall environmental impact of construction projects
The hybrid wall element is a facade element in a sandwich construction, featuring an outer layer made of climate-improved concrete, intermediate insulation, and a load-bearing inner panel made of strong and material-efficient laminated veneer lumber, Kerto® LVL. The element has approximately 30-50% lower climate impact compared to an equivalent traditional concrete sandwich element, and it is significantly lighter, which also affects the overall climate impact of the entire construction project. “Transportation to the construction site can be reduced because we can transport twice as many elements in the same shipment,” explains Daniel Eriksson.

No need to change current element production methods
Precast Contiga manufactures steel frames and concrete elements in factories located in Norrtälje and Uddevalla. Nearly two years ago, the company-initiated discussions with Metsä Wood to start manufacturing hybrid elements for the Swedish market. Since the company typically works with steel and concrete, this endeavor required learning about how wood functions. “The production method is very similar to what we already have, so we can create these hybrid elements using the same approach as our other walls, and they are assembled in the same way. We haven’t made any major investments or modifications,” says Daniel Eriksson.

“The European Union aims to be climate neutral by 2050, and the construction industry can contribute significantly to reach this target and we’re experiencing a demand for climate-smart solutions from the construction industry. One of the advantages of this hybrid element is that construction contractors do not have to change their way of building with concrete elements but can still lower their carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time, the walls can be made 50–75 millimeters thinner than walls built with concrete elements, which can give quite a few extra square meters in a building”, says Håkan Arnebrant, Business Development Manager at Metsä Wood

Moisture sensors in the test building
To practically test how the hybrid wall functions, a real house has been constructed on the factory premises in Norrtälje using these new elements. The test building is equipped with moisture sensors to monitor what happens inside the wall elements, and so far, no moisture has been detected. Additionally, various solutions for installations have been tested within the building.

Ideal for buildings up to five floors
The hybrid wall element is particularly suitable for buildings with up to five floors. These can include residential buildings, offices, healthcare facilities, or schools. “Here, it’s a truly excellent product that we are now ready to test in real projects,” says Daniel Eriksson.

Key facts-

The hybrid wall is a new type of facade element in a sandwich construction, featuring an outer layer made of concrete and a load-bearing inner layer made of Kerto LVL

The hybrid wall has approximately 30-50% lower climate impact compared to an equivalent traditional concrete sandwich element.

In a typical house where the hybrid wall replaces a concrete sandwich wall, the overall climate impact from the entire structure can be reduced by 15-25%.

The hybrid wall weighs approximately 60% less than a traditional concrete sandwich element, resulting in transport costs being about 50% lower and reducing the climate impact from transportation by approximately 50%.

This innovative hybrid wall represents a promising step toward more sustainable construction practices.

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