Wood that’s better than the real thing

Kebony AS’s scientific process turns soft woods into durable and beautiful hardwoods

Photo: Øyvind Holmstad / Wikimedia Commons A well-weathered deck made of Kebony wood.

Photo: Øyvind Holmstad / Wikimedia Commons
A well-weathered deck made of Kebony wood.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

This company has been included in the Global Cleantech 100 list in 2014 for the fourth time, and was named as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. It is represented in the U.S. by Pine River Group in St. Claire, Michigan, specialists in supplying timber for the marine, agriculture, and construction industry.

The Norwegian company started in 1996 under the name World Polymer Technologies. A pilot production facility opened in 2003, and from 2004 to 2007 they delivered products to multiple large, high-profile construction projects in Norway. In 2007 they changed their name to Kebony, and started construction of an industrially scaled plant, which was opened in 2009. The company is headquartered in Oslo, with a production facility in Skien. They are employing about 60 people and have subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden and sales representatives in Germany, France, the UK, and the U.S.

Their patented wood modification process is the result of many years of R&D in collaboration with universities. The products are created through the Kebonization process, in which sustainable softwoods are impregnated with a natural bio-waste liquid and heat, resulting in alteration of the cell structure from nondurable to a highly durable new wood. This gives Kebony comparable, and often superior, attributes to technological hardwood. Kebony has been the choice of leading architects and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, due to its durability and great aesthetic, for the Hunters Point in Queens. The boardwalk is exposed to the vagaries of the city’s weather from 100 degree heat in summer to winter temperatures as low as zero.

The demand for the company’s wood has steadily increased over recent years, and the company has seen average growth of 30 percent p.a. in the last five years. Conservation is not just a passing consumer trend; it is now mandated by law. The European Union timber legislation, which bans illegal forestry products from entering the market, came into effect in March 2013.

In October, Kebony closed an investment round of eight million euro with new investor Investinor and matched by capital from six investors. The investment will support Kebony’s international growth, including developing new production capacity beyond its base in Norway.

One of the investors said that Kebony is an example company to invest in: “This is a timely investment for us as Kebony takes its sustainable, high performance wood to fulfill the demand in new, international markets.”

To learn more about Kebony, visit kebony.com.

This article originally appeared in the May 8, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.