An efficient use of thermal treatment of wood requires an in- depth understanding of the chemical modifications induced. This is a prerequisite to avoid problems of process control, and to provide high quality treated wood with accurately assessed properties to the market. Properties and structural anatomy of thermally modified woods are slightly different than un-processed woods from a same wood species. So it is necessary to create or adapt new analytical methods to control their quality.
Heat treatment as a wood modification process is based on chemical degradation of wood polymer by heat transfer. It improves mainly the resistance of wood to decay and provides dimensional stability. These improvements, which come at the expense of a weakening of mechanical properties, have been extensively studied. Since a decade, researches focused mainly on the understanding of wood thermal degradation, on modelling, on quality prediction and quality control. We aimed at reviewing the recent advances about (i) the analytical methods used to control thermal treatment; (ii) the effects on wood decay resistance and (iii) the advantages and drawbacks of a potential industrial use of wood heating. We carried out a literature review of the main industrial methods used to evaluate the conferred wood properties, by thermal treatment. We used papers and reports published between 1970 and 2015, identified in the web of science data base. Approximately 100 papers mostly published after 2000 were retrieved. They concentrated on: (i) wood mass loss due to thermal degradation determination, (ii) spectroscopic analyses of wood properties, (iii) colour measurements, (iv) chemical composition, (v) non-destructive mechanical assessments and (vi) use of industrial data. One of most interesting property of heat-treated wood remains its decay resistance. Durability test with modified wood in laboratory are expensive and time-consuming. This review displays data from different analytical methods, such as spectroscopy, thermogravimetry, chemical analyses or mechanical tests that have the potential to be valuable indicators to assess the durability of heat treated wood at industrial scale. However, each method has its limits and drawbacks, such as the required investment for the equipment, reliability and accuracy of the results and ease of use at industrial scale.
Candelier K, Thevenon M-F, Petrissans A, Dumarcay S, Gerardin P, Petrissans M 2016. Control of wood thermal treatment and its effects on decay resistance: a review. Ann. For. Sci.: 1-13. 10.1007/s13595-016-0541-x.
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