The Finnish company VacuumWood.tech, a pioneer in wood construction technology, presented the revolutionary invention VIS (VacuumWood.tech Innovative System), developed in collaboration with Aalto University. This technology promises to extend the life of wooden structures, especially in humid environments such as greenhouses, by continuously monitoring humidity levels, removing excess moisture and helping to maintain optimal air quality.
Pasi Herranen, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of VacuumWood.tech, explains: “At the heart of our innovation is our hollow wood block, which is designed to be strong enough to maintain an almost complete vacuum inside. „We use sensors to monitor the wood's moisture level and use a vacuum pump to keep the material dry all the time.”
VIS technology eliminates the potential moisture and decay problems that often plague wooden buildings over time. This strict moisture control extends the life of the material and limits mold growth, ensuring better air quality in built spaces.
According to the company's website, VIS technology provides better moisture control and removal to prevent wood decomposition, and the company's wood-based structures can last more than 100 years, making them useful carbon sinks.
Moisture control is managed using sensors and a vacuum system to extract excess water from the material. Briefly, a vacuum pump is attached to the block and boosts its pressure when the moisture level increases. Water trapped inside the wood element begins to boil at room temperature and can be removed in gaseous form.
„VIS technology makes it possible to use wood as a construction material in humid environments such as vertical farms. Most buildings are made of concrete, steel and plastic, which are not very sustainable. Our company offers these sustainable construction elements with an extended life cycle,” says Panu Miettinen, the company's co-founder and marketing director. says
VacuumWood.tech has built its pilot facility at the Natural Resources Institute of Finland's (LUKE) Horticultural Research Center in Piikkiö, Finland. The pilot installation consists of seven modules, each with a maintenance interval of over two years. This means that vacuum drying is expected to be required only after several years.
The wooden frames of the modules are coated with a thin layer of aluminum to increase light reflection into the vertical farm (and to achieve the rigidity required for vacuum drying). Additionally, the heat generated by a vertical farm can be easily recovered and reused in adjacent buildings such as greenhouses, commercial or residential spaces due to the structure's high level of insulation.
„If vertical farms build larger facilities with a higher planting density per square meter, there is a strong economic advantage because we can capture more heat this way. This provides another source of income for the vertical farm,” says Banu.
In the future, the company aims to further develop its VIS technology for use in commercial and residential buildings. VacuumWood.tech is also exploring the use of vacuum as an insulator to further improve the insulation capabilities of its structures. Finally, the company is keen to form partnerships in other countries to facilitate international production and distribution of these modules.