After about 20 years of fighting against the stereotypes of prejudice and discrediting attempts from wood and chemical industries, Dr. Thoma succeeded - as he says - in accomplishing technically everything. However, throughout the 20 years, he failed to scientifically explain and prove the positive impacts of wood on the wellbeing of people. As he says: “Intuition doesn’t lie, and the human body doesn’t lie either. Why, then, do I feel so great in the old, wooden house, whereas in a modern building my eyes tear up and my throat becomes scratchy?”. There must be a way to prove the positive impact of wood on people by using academic and scientific methods.
He tried with doctors and with medicine-related professionals, but he didn't get anywhere. A few years ago, he was invited to a wood industry symposium. Many scientists and well-known people participated in the symposium. Dr. Thoma noticed one strange, older man, with Einstein-like hair. It turned out to be Professor Max Moser, who was the department chair at the medical university in Graz. At a meal, Dr. Thoma jokingly asked him what he was doing at such a symposium full of tree huggers. The professor replied that he had participated in the AUSTROMIR program a few years earlier and together with his team, had created the medical research equipment for the Mir international space station. Max Moser is one of the most renowned scientists in Austria, and he was selected for the space program. “But what does this have to do with wood?”, asked Dr. Thoma.
The task of the professor, when it came to the space station, was to study all semiochemical substances that would affect the health or wellbeing of the cosmonauts. The space station has a closed air circuit and ventilation is impossible; hence, the effect of semiochemistry on humans is particularly strong. Semiochemical substances are chemical compounds, such as pheromones, produced by animals and plants that are used to carry information and exert a certain determined influence on the environment. However, the fumes of certain substances and plastics also affect humans. For this purpose, the professor developed a unique apparatus that can measure the effect of secreted substances on the autonomic nervous system of people. Dr. Thoma dropped his spoon from his hand and cried out, “professor, I have been looking for you for 20 years! If you can measure such impacts on humans, we must carry out a joint research project”. The professor replied that if he managed to fund such a project it wouldn’t be a problem, but - for a project like this - a six-digit sum might not be enough. Dr. Thoma had a lot of experience in organizing funding for research projects, and after a year he had a confirmation of the seven-digit sum for the research sitting on his table. Therefore, a large-scale research project was organized, and its results left no doubt whatsoever.
Two identical rooms were built for the project. One was constructed of solid wood, while the other was constructed of laminated particle boards. The result of the experiment was somewhat of a surprise. It turned out that 10 minutes after a man walked from the laminated particleboard to the solid wood room, his biological functions would completely change. His heart would relax, stabilize and slow down. The semiochemical substances released by the wood immediately informed the body that it could feel safe and was out of danger.
Ninety percent of Western Europeans die from three main causes: cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia or Alzheimer's disease. These three risks are exactly the ones minimized by wood. During sleep, the heart rate slows down so that a person saves 1 hour of heartbeat overnight or 3000 strokes. As the number of heartbeats in one’s lifetime is limited to about 2 billion, one can say that in a wooden room people live 1 hour longer per day, and the sleep is deeper and more regenerating. People who suffer from sleep problems all the time, suddenly fall asleep easily in a wooden room. A walk in the forest has a similar effect on people.
Solid wood is not only the safest material when it comes to fire, flood or earthquakes, but it also protects its inhabitants from all kinds of harmful, high frequency electromagnetic waves. It completely stops, for example, mobile phone frequencies. This has been confirmed by research conducted by the Bundeswehr University in Munich.
It has also been found that wood is best suited for the construction of rooms with the highest level of surveillance protection required as well. Thanks to this finding, Dr. Thoma's company has received a number of orders to build various structures for the German army.
This seven-floor hotel is built completely out of Holz100 – 100% pure wood. It proves day by day the incredible static strength of this natural, raw material. More so, there is even a huge swimming pool located on the seventh floor which boasts a open-air panoramic view of surrounding mountains. Starting from the day that its foundation was laid, the time that it took to officially open its doors only took 2 months.
This is the Austrian, state-of-the-art film archive, which houses 70,000 historical nitro-film reels. Fumes from the film erode rebars in reinforced concrete and therefore wood becomes most suitable for this purpose. This archive requires no external sources of electricity, and the constantly monitored temperature is at 3 degrees Celsius throughout the year as fluctuations are unacceptable in this case. In the summer, the facade warms up to an average temperature of twenty degrees Celsius from the outside and only a small, solar-powered air conditioner is at work.
To obtain such a result, the building has been modeled after a red ant forest anthill.
The larval hatching chamber at the center of the mound is exceptionally resistant to variations in outdoor temperatures. For this purpose, a research project was created, which involved the best BMW specialists in engine thermodynamics. It turned out that wood has two completely unique thermodynamic properties. 1 kg of wood accumulates 2.5 times as much heat as 1 kilogram of stone, and the time required to change its temperature is much longer than any other natural, raw material.
This is the Haramura church near Fukushima in Japan which withstood a well-known earthquake for its destruction. Moreover, it is capable of surviving typhoons of up to 200 km per hour. One should know that for concrete, it is irreversibly damaged once it passes breaking point. Wood, on the other hand, flexes, shifts into the elastic phase, and then returns to its original form.
In 2012, Dr. Thoma's company built an energy self-efficient 5-floor commercial wooden building in Hamburg. This is ArcheNEO in Oberndorf, Tirol. A 6,600 square meter office complex, in which tenants’ leases state that they will not have to pay even a penny for heating throughout the year. The whole complex is built out of wood and not a trace of chemicals were used. Its temperature is regulated by heat pumps powered by photovoltaic batteries located on the roof.
Energy Self Sufficient Home
It is hard to imagine, but the dense, hard timber that you can crack your head against is nothing but transformed air. Trees draw carbon dioxide from the air, returns oxygen, and uses carbon to build the most incredible structure that mankind refers to as wood. It only utilizes water and a small amount of minerals from the earth for this purpose. It is a structure so complex that the inner surface of one cubic centimeter of wood consists of 150 to 200 square meters in surface area.
Not only is this excellent structure the best natural heat insulator, but it also accumulates and stores heat well. Dr. Thoma in earlier years had already built many of the world's most energy-efficient homes, but even more so, he wanted to prove that it was possible to create an absolutely energy self-sufficient home without an external source of energy such as photovoltaics. He accomplished this by using other ancient methods.
Therefore he erected a five-floor house in the Bernese Oberland in the Matterhorn area of the Alps, which retains such an optimized facade with an intelligent arrangement of glass elements that during the day the sun falls through large windows on the so-called “sun traps” in the form of black stone floors. They warm up and act as a short-lived heat accumulator, while the high natural heat insulation properties of the wooden walls act as long-lasting heat storage. The house does not have any heating or ventilation, and its air quality and temperature are constantly monitored as part of the research project. Its indoor temperature in winter has never dropped below 18° C.
Moonwood harvesting was not only utilized in ancient Rome. After the first book was published, Dr. Thoma was unexpectedly visited by a delegation from Japan, led by the highest monk of the Japanese Buddhist monastery Hōryū-ji. The monastery is home to the world's oldest wooden buildings, erected in 607 AD. As it turned out, those buildings had also been built from moonwood. The head of the monastery wanted to become acquainted with Dr. Thoma's technology, because one of his student had left him with Dr. Thoma's book.
After observing everything, the monks left with a word that Dr. Thoma is turning the wheels of something great, because Buddhists believed that one should live in such a way which does as not leave any traces behind. Since Dr. Thoma’s technology does not harm the environment and does not leave waste throughout its entire life cycle, it certainly aligns with their principles. At the end, the monk promised his support. Dr. Thoma said goodbye, but questioned how they would be able to support him all the way from Japan and did not expect to hear back from them.
However, two weeks later a Japanese publisher called to inform Dr. Thoma that he received publication orders for a Japanese translation of Dr. Thoma’s book. Following his publications in Japan, Dr. Thoma started receiving orders for Holz100 from Japan. At this time, entering the Japanese market for building materials was considered virtually impossible even for large corporations, let alone such a small company like Dr. Thoma's.
To build houses in Japan, however, one needed to obtain the most restrictive certificate for earthquake resistance. Japan has at its disposal the largest platform for simulating seismic shocks which was where Dr. Thoma’s employees built a Holz100 house for testing. Dr. Thoma could not be present for testing, and he was very surprised when his employee called him to say that they failed to get certified.
The certificate is only issued when the tested house falls apart. It is then that the seismic level at which the construction fails is determined. However, Mr. Thoma’s house withstood the highest level of seismic shocks that could be simulated. The structure of the house had to be weakened by removing some of the connecting pegs for the house to fall apart, so that the certificate could be issued. The certificate received was of the highest safety class that can be obtained in Japan.
Incredible Fire Resistance Values
The first serious issue that Dr. Erwin Thoma came across in Germany was fire protection. In the 1970s and 1980s, wood houses were not allowed to be built with more than one floor. It was believed to be too dangerous because timber would burn quickly. Dr. Thoma decided to attain a fire safety certificate at the IBS Institute. It is one of the best known institutes of its kind in Europe, and it has the largest furnace for fire testing in Europe.
A manager of the institute said, “It is a wooden wall, so let’s try to run the F30 test and see how it does.” This test examines whether a wall can withstand a flame of 1000 degrees on one side for 30 minutes. Dr. Thoma had initially claimed that although made of wood, Holz100 was a completely different structure and asked for them to examine how long the wall would last beyond F30.
In response, the manager looked at Dr. Thoma as if he were an idiot and replied, “I said F30”. Dr. Thoma insisted, and the manager replied, irritated: “Listen, I have been working at the Institute for many years, and I have tested everything one could test in the timber industry. You should be glad if it can even withstand the F30 test. It will definitely not last any longer.” Finally, Dr. Thoma offered to pay for every minute of the test and the manager agreed, shook his head, and started the test. After 122 minutes, there was a strange sound. It turned out that the tank ran out of oil.
Following this incident, the institute carried out the test at its own expense and in the end, Dr. Thoma received a F180 certificate. It turned out that after three hours of treating a Holz100 wall with a 1000 ° flame, the temperature on its other side rose only by 1.8° C. The same treatment of a reinforced concrete wall would have caused the temperature on the opposing side rise to 600° even after 20-30 minutes and everything would start to burn. Because of the heat, the concrete begins to crack in layers and release the rebar rods which then melt.
It may seem unbelievable, but even a thick tree trunk thrown into the fire will often remain unburned, while the fire eventually fades and dies out. Only some of its surface will be charred as a result. When the source of fire disappears, the trunk stops burning as well. For wood to burn well, it must be cut into small pieces and surrounded by air. Today, Dr. Thoma's firm builds certified firewalls made of wood for industrial needs.
Absence of glue between layers create microscopic air gaps. There are additional air channels between some layers, allowing for improved thermal insulation. In this field, it has been so far assumed that the highest heat transfer coefficient (U-value) that wood can achieve is 0.14. However, this is true for glue laminated wood. Unglued and mechanically linked walls of Dr. Thoma have achieved a result twice as efficient; a U-value of 0.078. As such, a 36 cm thick Holz100 wall would provide a similar insulation to a 75 cm thick, solid, glue-laminated wooden wall (CLT) or a 10 m thick reinforced concrete wall.
Leaving out chemicals and toxins in the processing of Holz100 surprisingly led it to break the world record in thermal insulation for building materials. The results were so unbelievable that initially the Frauenhofer Institute in Stuttgart denied to issue a certificate. Over time, both the Frauenhofer and the Graz Technical University confirmed the results and issued relevant certificates.
The U value does not tell us everything, however; it turns out to be a poor manipulation created to favor thermal insulation manufacturers. In a laboratory experiment at the University of Graz, three walls with identical heat transfer coefficients were compared: an internally insulated prefabricated wall made of gypsum and particle board; a brick wall with Polystyrene insulation; and a 30 cm solid wood wall (holz100). The test room was at a room temperature without heating, and the outside temperature was -10 degrees Co. The test measured the time, in which the internal wall would reach 0 degrees Co. To reach 0 Co, It took 2 days for the prefab wall, the insulated brick wall took 10 days, and finally the solid wood wall (holz100) required over a month of time.
Moisture is yet another problem in construction. Water vapor and condensation is such a difficult issue that no company in the world can guarantee construction materials free of condensation and mold growth for more than 5 years. Lower Saxony's research has revealed recently that 80% of all homes equipped with styrofoam thermal insulation have developed mildew between the wall and the styrofoam. Mold is one of the worst poisons of all that can toxicate residential buildings.
Dr. Thoma guarantees his Holz100 houses for 50 years against moisture and mold. He has already built over 1000 houses in 33 countries, from the tropics to the Arctic Circle and, so far, has not received a single complaint.
The company grew and Mr. Thoma started building houses from solid wood, which, in the 1980's, was completely against the development of modern building systems at the time. Wooden houses were usually made of frame structures, in which mixed materials such as wood, foil, styrofoam, and others were used together.
Dr. Thoma wanted to build houses where people would be surrounded only and completely by wood, without the use of chemicals and toxins, to create an atmosphere similar to old wooden huts he knew from his childhood. They had a uniquely positive atmosphere. Gaining insight into the mystery of this well-being material has become a quiet passion of Dr. Thoma. He had to postpone his work in this area for later because, as it turned out, he still had many obstacles to first overcome.
Dr. Thoma developed and patented his own technology of wooden building systems. He called the technology Holz100 (“Wood”100), because Holz100 buildings were made of 100% wood in with absolutely no chemicals, screws or nails. Its walls were mainly 36 cm thick and consisted of five layers of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal wooden boards. All layers were joined by dry wooden pegs that swelled with moisture from the surrounding environment and formed an inseparable structure. A water, curd and lime mix acted as grease to reduce resistance when driving the pegs through the wooden boards with a hydraulic press. Elements prefabricated in such a way were delivered to the project site, and the assembly of a “turnkey” single family home only took 1 to 2 days for completion.
When humidity changes, timber swells or shrinks, but its length never changes. The cross structure of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal layers provide incredible stability similar to that offered by a concrete wall, as well as an exceptional durability of the form, even if such a house is flooded.
The Center for Chinese Healing Arts made of Holz100 built on the river in Gars am Kamp, Austria, was flooded by a hundred-year flood for four months after it was opened. After the water had subsided, only a bit of cosmetic work and replacement of floorboards required to be completed - and the building was ready to be used again.
Wood, Water, and the Moon
The notes he took throughout his observations eventually became a manuscript and was accidentally discovered by a publisher. He talked Dr. Thoma into publishing his first book, “I Saw You Grow”, in which he precisely described the phenomenon of moonwood. Dr. Thoma’s friends advised him not to disclose secrets of his business. However, he believed that he should not keep this precious knowledge to himself, because it could change people's thinking about wood and make the world a little better as a result. He believed that what goes around comes around. This book caused a stir among the entire woodworking industry in the German-speaking area and many old craftsmen reacted positively to it. However, scientists and other industries responded with a hail of criticism and ridicule. He was called the moon whisperer and stamped as an esoteric.
An Austrian trade magazine has even commissioned research that was supposed to officially confirm that moonwood was nonsense. And, of course, test results matched the client's wishes, as it often happens in such cases. However, the book also reached Professor Ernst Zurcher at the ETH Institute in Zürich. It is the best technical university in Europe and one of the most renowned technical universities in the world. Based on his accumulated knowledge, a five-year research was organized to study moonwood. Similar research efforts were also initiated in Vienna and Hamburg. The Vienna and Hamburg research was short lived and proved nothing. On the other hand, the five-year research in Zürich confirmed the truth of the old grandfather’s knowledge. The results of these studies have been published in the most reputable publications of the world. Professor Zurcher still continues to research the impact of moon on various nature related phenomena.
The first thing discovered in Zurich was that a tree would pulse in step with the phases of the moon, i.e., it would swell and shrink in diameter by a fraction of a millimeter. Nevertheless, its length would never change. It was also discovered that each tree would form an electromagnetic field around it. One could think of this as some kind of an aura. The field's potential would increase and decrease in step with the phases of the moon. Next, the research concentrated on the intermolecular interactions in wood - most importantly those related to water. It was discovered that such interactions, similar to tides, also changed under the influence according to the phases of the moon. Water in its liquid state always manifests in systems called clusters. This phenomenon is poorly researched and contains many secrets yet to unfold. Some theories claim that such clusters carry information.
The ETH Institute in Zurich discovered that during the waning moon, individual molecules of water disconnected from the clusters and temporarily combined with single molecules of cellulose on the surface of capillaries. This can be described as the smallest mechanical mixture that exists. This phenomenon brings quantum physics into mind. The water molecule in this state is no longer in a liquid, gas, or solid state – it is in a fourth state described as gelled or gelatinous. Once the moon phase changes, these molecules separate which is scientifically inexplicable today. The only significant discovery was that it was controlled by the electromagnetic field surrounding the tree. It can be said that the moon affects the water contained in wood rather than the wood itself, thus improving properties of the wood. If the tree is harvested down during the waning moon phase, the resulting timber is so resistant to pests and fungi that the use of any wood preservatives or other chemicals is absolutely unnecessary. Such wood has the potential to last for hundreds of years without any maintenance or chemical treatment.
As it turns out, this knowledge was already in use in ancient Rome. In their records, moonwood was found to be used in building warships, as it was not prone to be attacked by harmful crustaceans. Julius Caesar even instituted the death penalty for ship builders who used wood other than moonwood. Pliny, a historian and Roman writer, also wrote about moonwood. Similar laws existed practically in every high culture in human history.
Holz100 Canada Inc.