Co-funded by:
Mentored by:

Enhanced Wood Properties of Low-Grade Timber Through Densification Coupled with Natural, Plant-Based Polymers

One way to protect natural wood is by using vegetable oils. However, oils in their native state have the potential to leach out of the wood. One method for fixing these oils within the wood is to use emulsification with oxidation, leading to oil polymerization. In this project, peracetic acid, dioxirane, and hydrogen peroxide will be used as catalysts to target unsaturated fatty acids in the vegetable oils to form polymerized oils. One drawback to the use of catalysts for oil polymerization is that they reduce the wood’s mechanical strength. This limitation offers an opportunity for moving past the state-of-the-art with respect to plant oil polymerization in combination with thermal-hydro-mechanical (THM) treatments designed to increase mechanical properties of wood. By combining these two treatments, this research aims to overcome the shortcomings in both. Results should indicate improved value for low-grade wood in both participating countries and an effective and natural method for wood protection. The project collaborators each bring their unique experience to this project in the fields of wood modification through modified plant oils and densified wood treatments. The objective of this project is to develop a methodology for treating densified poplar wood with epoxidized plant oils and assessing their performance, specifically: 1) dimensional stability; 2) mechanical properties; and 3) leaching potential. The project will merge Slovenian and Turkish research groups who will create a methodology and product to valorize low-value wood, increase applications for consumer goods, and offer an environmentally friendly alternative to products made from synthetic resins.

 

InnoRenew CoE project activities

InnoRenew CoE is responsible for impregnation of poplar wood specimens with modified oils (cut and conditioned). Impregnated specimens will then be densified using a THM treatment designed to polymerize the oil impregnant. The THM treatment will be optimized for each oil used by altering pressing parameters such as temperature, pressure, and cooling profiles as well as target densification level. InnoRenew CoE will also assess performance by analyzing dimensional stability, densification level, spring-back, set-recovery through wet/dry cycling, and mechanical properties via static testing in flexure and tension – modulus of rupture, modulus of elasticity, etc.