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

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

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.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Todd Shupe Says Steps Still Remain In Effort To Find Safe Substances For Wood Treatment

Todd Shupe Says Steps
Still Remain In Effort
To Find Safe Substances
For Wood Treatment

With warmer weather on the way for much of the U.S., the time-honored tradition of “spring cleaning” will soon be upon us. This means we’ll have an opportunity to get outdoors once again and assess the damage done by winter. When it comes to outdoor structures such as patios, porches, treehouses and other wooden structures, rot is almost guaranteed. This is an unfortunate fact since so much of the lumber that’s purchased to build outdoor structures – not to mention the frames of our homes – is treated with preservative chemicals to extend their lifespans and give them a fighting chance against deterioration. Todd Shupe, a wood sciences expert who spent years leading a professional lab, has thus learned a few things about what to do with rotting wood that isn’t absolutely environmentally unfriendly.

In a recent article that appeared in The Chippewa Herald, a municipal government recycling specialist sounds off on the dangerous surrounding open burning of trash – including wood. The reason for her warning surrounding backyard burning is that the chemicals released during the process are sent straight into the atmosphere and aren’t treated like they would be at a specialized facility. According to the article, “untreated wood” can be burned with a permit from your local government office. Unfortunately, as Todd Shupe can tell you, untreated wood is hard to come by unless you just chopped the limb off of a tree. The chemicals used to treat wood for non-residential purposes included heavy metals such as chromim, copper, and asenic, pentachlorophenol and creosote. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all wood preservatives are subjected to periodic reviews. That’s with good reason, says Todd Shupe, who notes that creosote is absorbed into the body through breathing and can remain there after being stored in fat. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that this chemical can cause “burning in the mouth and throat as well as stomach pain.”

Fortunately, the EPA and other entities have realized the dangers of treating wood with chemicals that have an adverse effect on human health. Fortunately, there are government agencies restricting use or ditching harmful chemicals altogether. From a science standpoint, Todd Shupe says that the solution is to either dispose of chemically-treated wood in a responsible manner or find metal-free preservatives. He’s similarly encouraged by the ongoing development of metal-free wood preservatives and the use of small diameter timber for the bio-energy sector.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.