Improvements in stability, durability and mechanical properties of radiata pine wood after heat-treatment in a vegetable oil
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Radiata pine is a major plantation grown wood in the Southern hemisphere, but has inferior dimensional stability and low durability compared to other commercial species and the improvement of these features is the focus of this thesis.
Specifically this thesis examines the dimensional stability, durability and mechanical properties of radiata pine after heat-treatment (160-210°C) in linseed oil. Changes in colour, micro-structure and chemistry with heat-treatment were studied. To optimise the treatment results, oil heat-treatment of wood was also carried out after thermo-mechanical compression of wood and the effect of the prior thermo-mechanical compression on stability, durability and mechanical properties were examined. The oil heat-treated wood turned uniformly darker in colour. The hydrophobicity (Water Repellence Efficiency-WRE up to 30%), dimensional stability (Ant-Swelling Efficiency-ASE up to 60%) and fungal resistance (up to 36%) were improved with the extent of the changes mainly depending on treatment temperature. However, the mechanical properties of oil heat-treated wood were reduced compared to the untreated control group. Accelerated UV weathering tests have shown that the oil heat-treated wood retained its colour and dimensional stability better than the untreated wood (the control group).
The cell wall of treated wood was intact and no distinct structural changes were observed even at the most severe treatment (210°C for 6 hrs).The treatment resulted in changes to the wood chemical constituents, mainly the degradation of hemicelluloses which is believed to be principal reason for alterations in wood properties. A study of the effect of prolong heating on the linseed oil showed an increase in viscosity with heating time which in turn reduced the oil uptake and water repellency of treated wood. However, no significant difference in the colour and dimensional stability of the treated wood was noticed with oil of different heating ages. Oil absorbed by the wood during heat treatment was removed by organic solvent extraction and its contribution to the weight percentage change and moisture related properties were evaluated. The oil uptake percentage, determined by organic solvent extraction, was greater than the weight percentage loss that was deduced to occur during the heat treatment phase, which was attributed to mass losses or thermal degradation of wood constituents. Moisture excluding efficiency decreased after removal of the oil from treated wood, which suggested that the hydrophobicity of treated wood is affected by oil absorbtion. The influence of the post-treatment cooling period on properties of treated wood was studied separately. Oil uptake increased substantially with the post-treatment cooling time which in turn affected the hydrophobicity of treated wood although this effect was less important to dimensional stability.
The loss of mechanical properties due to heat-treatment was successfully countered by thermo-mechanical compression of wood prior to the oil heat-treatment. The wood was compressed to 39% of its original thickness without any visible surface checks and cracks. Spring back and compression set recovery in densified wood decreased after oil heat-treatment. This combination treatment also resulted in improved fungal resistance compared to untreated wood.
From this research, it is concluded that oil heat-treatment of radiata pine wood can improve its dimensional stability and durability obviating the need to introduce any persistent toxic chemicals. Thermo-mechanical densification of wood prior to oil heat-treatment can countered the loss of mechanical properties due to heat-treatment. The heating oil can be re-used in subsequent treatments and oil uptake can be minimised by limiting the post-treatment cooling time without any significant effect on the dimensional stability of treated wood.