Essential oil smells success in timber design awards


ForestPlus Oils scooped the Scion-sponsored Novel Application of (wood) Fibre category in the NZ Wood Resene Timber Design Awards

The ForestPlus Oils team won the prize for their ‘essential oils from pines’ product, an essential oil distilled from New Zealand Douglas fir.

The team use the roadside trimmings and wilding trees from Douglas fir forests to distill oil using their own uniquely designed distilling equipment.

The tree material they use would otherwise be considered a waste product, adding a potential new profit stream for some forest owners.

Scion Science Leader Wood and Fibre Doug Gaunt, who sat on the judging panel, says the oil project had a close alignment with Scion’s strategy to use as much of each tree as possible, not just the wood.

“This product takes a small amount of side stream material from a tree and turns it into a very valuable item,” he explains.

“Novel uses like this can change the profitability of some forestry crops and have the potential to create a whole new type of short rotation oil/chemical producing crop. It’s exactly the kind of thinking we prize at Scion.”

Paul Greaves from ForestPlus Oil says, “We’re really excited about our essential oil from pines product.

“The vacuum distillation technology we’ve developed, has never been used before, and it has some definite advantages compared to other techniques. The award is recognition of this.”

ForestPlus has sent over 3300kg of oil to the US, where it’s used for aromatherapy, skincare and massage. And in that process, they’ve removed and processed over 1.3 million kg of biomass from road edges and wildings since 1 July 2015.

“In many ways this is another Kiwi can-do story, solving a waste problem, designing and building a plant, securing a market and making it all work,” Gaunt says.

The NZ Wood Resene Timber Design awards are the only timber design award in New Zealand. Run by the promotional arm of the forestry industry, NZ Wood, the awards have been going since 1975 and remain a great opportunity to recognise excellence in timber engineering, innovation and high-quality building design using timber.

The Novel Application of Fibre award was judged for use of a new wood product or system which contributes to the use of wood fibre derived products in a manner that characterises its unique features via an innovative application of design, science or technology. The category was open to entries from any sector.

Scion is a Crown research institute that undertakes research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials and other biomaterial sectors. Formerly the NZ Forest Research Institute, Scion employs approximately 300 people and has its head office in Rotorua.