Radiata pine – Kebony's latest modified milestone12 May 2012
Kebony’s constant focus on product development and innovation is resulting in growing market interest and sales, reports marketing director Jan Terje Nielsen
• Kebony is suited to interior and exterior application.
• It is based on southern yellow and Scots pine and maple.
• The latest variant, using radiata, was launched at Ecobuild.
• Radiata Kebony’s grain and smooth surface give it a strong tropical timber resemblance.
• The EU Timber Regulation is increasing interest in modified wood.
Since its formation in 1997, on the back of ground breaking wood modification research by Professor Marc Schneider of Canada’s New Brunswick University, Kebony ASA has continued to focus on innovation and process improvements for its sustainable alternative to tropical hardwood and chemically-treated timber.
Our aim is to offer the built environment a viable alternative to environmentally damaging materials and allow the timber industry to broaden its product offering in response to growing consumer and political pressures.
Through the pioneering Kebonization process – which is based on furfurylation – Kebony transforms sustainable wood species into a material with comparable, or even superior, attributes to tropical hardwood, making it applicable to a range of uses including: decking, flooring, cladding, roofing, windows and indoor and outdoor furniture. Kebony is low maintenance, resistant to decay and cost-effective due to its durability and long lifespan in harsh climates.
The latest result of Kebony’s focus on maximising market opportunity for its process was unveiled in March. After an intensive two-year research and development phase we showcased radiata Kebony at this year’s Ecobuild exhibition. During the development process the raw wood material went through extensive testing in our in-house research and development department to ensure it achieved the full performance of our existing product range, which comprises southern yellow pine, Scots pine and maple.
Radiata, grown commercially in New Zealand and Chile, is a fast-growing certified softwood which is readily treatable by the process and we believe radiata Kebony is virtually indistinguishable from tropical wood, with all the added hard-wearing characteristics delivered by Kebonization.
The new product is a smooth, evenly-patterned wood which we predict will open up numerous international opportunities for us and our customers. It has similar mechanical characteristics to that of southern yellow pine Kebony, with a more even grain structure that becomes more similar to that of a tropical hardwood when weathered. The price of the two products is also comparable. It opens up new markets and potential applications, as the raw material is available in clear, wider boards which, in particular, are increasingly required in architectural applications.
We believe the smoothness of radiata Kebony is an especially strong selling point as architects look to use it in both indoor and outdoor applications.
Since the launch, just a few months ago, there has been significant international interest in the product. In fact, we’ve already secured strong sales and have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline.
Building on customer knowledge
With any new product there is a period of education as the trade learns how best to use the new material. But, in the case of radiata Kebony, we’ve been able to build on the high profile and customer knowledge of our existing products.
The launch also comes against the background of encouraging international growth for our business as a whole. This year we have seen a surge in demand from international distributors seeking quality wood products with inherent environmental credentials. We not only provide new possibilities for wood as a material, we offer a viable alternative to less environmentally friendly products such as steel and concrete. As timber users and specifiers come under increasing pressure to provide evidence of their materials’ legality and sustainability, backed by chain of custody schemes, Kebony provides an increasingly valuable option.
The anti-illegal wood EU Timber Regulation, coming into force in 2013, makes modified wood an even more attractive choice. In fact, we’ve seen significant growth in international demand as awareness of the upcoming legislation spreads through the timber sector and its key user markets, such as construction. Clearly people are already looking for solutions that easily and straightforwardly keep them the right side of the new rules.
Kebony ASA’s environmental credentials and its business potential have been publicly recognised with several international awards and citations. It was named as one of the world’s most promising clean technology companies in the 2010 and 2011 Global Cleantech 100. It has also received Deloitte’s Fast 50 Award, been named as one of the top 50 companies that could change our world in 2010 and also received the CNBC accolade as a top 25 creative European company.
The development of our alternative clear grade, high performance radiata Kebony marks another key milestone for us. It further demonstrates the resources and effort that the company puts into product development, an effort now being rewarded with strong construction and architectural market interest and sales.
Our view is that our product development and innovation in technology reflect the needs of the industry and that is what we will continue to strive to achieve.