The four finalists of the 2021 National University Wood Challenge (NUWC) have been announced.

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said one team from the University of Tasmania, one team from Griffith University and two teams from the University of Melbourne have been chosen for the challenge.

“Competitions like the NUWC are an important pathway to developing new ideas that could put industries on a more sustainable pathway,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“The challenge of the NUWC was for small teams of academics and university students to come up with innovative ideas that use wood to create sustainable, everyday items the world needs.

“Our four finalists have been chosen from a strong field of 11 teams from six different universities.

“The ideas the finalists have come up with are remarkable.

“The University of Tasmania is investigating the ways that Eucalyptus nitens – a common plantation species which is mostly used for woodchips – could be used in more high-value products like glued laminated or cross-laminated timber.

“Two teams from the University of Melbourne are developing new timber products that can be used in the construction industry.

“One team found a sustainable, biodegradable alternative to expandable polystyrene in Wood Fibre based Structural-Foam.

“The other developed a new type of low-cost hybrid sandwich panel that can be used as floor and wall panels in building and construction. What’s even better is both products can be used together.

“And Griffith University came up with the notion of using wood fibres as an alternative to concrete, using wood to fill steel tubes which can be used for construction.

“Each of these finalists have received prize money of $20,000 to test and develop these ideas into reality.

“Now they will go into the running for the final prize, an additional $10,000 to grow their idea further.

“I want to thank everyone who took part in the competition. Timber has huge potential for sustainable products and it’s extraordinary to see the breadth of innovative ideas in our universities.”