LSU’s Todd Shupe Explores Expanded Application Of Timber In High-Rise Construction

todd shupe lsu

No matter the industry or specialized task, it will always be someone’s job to ensure that cutting-edge developments pass every conceivable test before becoming publicly-available. While with LSU, it was up to Todd Shupe and his wood product testing lab to ensure that developments in the wood sciences sector met certain important standards before going to market. Given his immersion in the industry and his existing consulting wood science business, continued updates when it comes to practical uses of specially-treated wood still grabs his attention.

According to a November 2017 article from The Architect’s Newspaper, the applications of cross-laminated timber (CLT) could be expanding significantly in the coming years. The article states that CLT could eventually be used in mid-rise buildings as it grows from applications that are more commonly close to the ground, such as your typical residential two-story home. The article goes on to state that increased usage of CLT for new construction projects will be heavily based on the amount of work industry experts put into analyzing current construction codes. “With CLT, everything rotates like a rigid body under seismic stresses,” John van de Lindt, of Colorado State University, told  The Architect’s Newspaper. “Panels do not deform enough to dissipate energy and suck load right into them,” he added.

The construction of CLT requires the cutting of timber, accurate layout, adhesive application and then pressing the final product together. For Todd Shupe, LSU’s former quality manager of an EPAISO 17025-approval testing lab, it’s the adhesive aspect that has him the most interested. That’s because he and a team of four scientists would perform bond integrity tests on new or existing wood-based products. According to the article, the use of adhesives sometimes includes either melamine urea-formaldehyde resins or polyurethane; the former can hardened when exposed to heat while the latter will soften. Short of a structure fire, the way that builders know of this behavior is through the testing that Todd Shupe and company did at LSU.

During his 20-year research-and-development career, Shupe took much time to learn about the practical applications of wood science and the effects that some chemicals used during processing can have on the environment. It’s one of the reasons why he took further steps to learn about lean manufacturing, development of metal-free wood preservatives and ways to keep such items from ending up in landfills. Backing up his knowledge of the subject – and sincere interest in seeing Earth-friendly alternatives developed – include his bachelor’s degree in forestry, master’s degree in wood science and Ph.D. in wood science.

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