Technology for Wood and Natural Fiber-Based Materials

Research Project

Identification and reduction of odor-relevant substances from building products on the basis of wood and other renewable resources for application in indoor areas

The requirements concerning the sensory characteristics of building products are constantly increasing in strictness. Wood-based materials and other building products from renewable resources which are installed in indoor areas sometimes exude an odor which is perceived as unpleasant. In this project, we are investigating the question of how to identify and reduce the odor-relevant emissions from building products.

© Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau
Wood-based panel boards (OSB, MDF, plywood, particle board)
© Fraunhofer WKI | Marek Kruszewski
Odor evaluation

In order to achieve the objective of the project, we initially systematically identify the odor emissions from wood-based materials made from fresh pinewood for insulating purposes (fiber insulation boards) and for constructive building (oriented strand board [OSB] and coarse particle board). Based on these results, we develop process engineering methods, coupled with chemical-physical modification procedures, for the prevention and/or reduction of irritating or detrimental odor-relevant individual substances.

The execution of the experiment is focused crucially on the reduction of odor emissions which result from the material composition of the raw material in conjunction with unavoidable procedural process steps such as heat-drying or hot-pressing.


The individual objectives of the project are: 

  • quantitative and qualitative identification of the emissions of volatile organic compounds, taking into consideration the odor-relevant substances from pinewood, intermediate products in the material production and the manufactured materials with the aid of test chamber measurements based on mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and gas chromatography/olfactometry (GC-O/FID),
  • determination of the influence of procedure-related process steps (drying of the strands/coarse particles, thermomechanical pulping for the production of the fibrous materials, hot-pressing of particle and fiber mats to form wood-based material) on the VOC and odor emissions from OSB/coarse particle boards and fiber insulation boards,
  • identification of a suitable and industrially-feasible procedure for the reduction and/or prevention of off-odors in wood-based materials, for example through
  • reduction of the temperature loading during the drying of the wood particles and hot-pressing,
  • modification of the surface of the strands/coarse particles,
  • chemical modification of the fibrous material during pulping,
  • subsequent treatment of the strands/coarse particles and fibers,
  • application of additives for odor absorption as well as the prevention of secondary reactions.

Project partners

Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP)

Papierfabrik August Koehler SE (paper manufacturer)

Pfleiderer Holzwerkstoffe GmbH (wood-based panel manufacturer)

Sasol WAX GmbH (surfactants, alcohols, waxes, etc.)

Steico SE (building products from renewable resources)


Funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture by decision of the German Parliament
Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. (Agency for Renewable Resources)

Funding reference: 22006714

Project duration: 01.09.2015 – 31.08.2018