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Evaluation of preservative distribution in thermally modified European aspen and birch boards using computed tomography and scanning electron microscopy

Ahmed, Sheikh Ali, Sehlstedt-Persson, Margot, Hansson, Lars, Morén, Tom
Journal of wood science 2013 v.59 no.1 pp. 57-66
Betula pubescens, Pinus, Populus tremula, computed tomography, scanning electron microscopy, tung oil, wood, wood preservatives
The aim of this experiment was to impregnate thermally modified wood using an easy and cost-effective method. Industrially processed thermally modified European aspen (Populus tremula L.) and birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) were collected and secondarily treated at the laboratory scale with the preservatives tung oil, pine tar and Elit Träskydd (Beckers) using a simple and effective method. Preservative uptake and distribution in sample boards were evaluated using computed tomography (CT) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) techniques. Preservative uptake and treatability in terms of void volume filled were found the highest in Beckers and the lowest in tung oil-treated samples. Thermally modified samples had lower treatability than their counterpart control samples. More structural changes after thermal modification, especially in birch, significantly reduced the preservative uptake and distribution. The differences of preservatives uptake near the end grain were high and then decreased near the mid position of the samples length as compared with similar type of wood sample. Non-destructive evaluation by CT scanning provided a very useful method to locate the preservative gradients throughout the sample length. SEM analysis enabled the visualization of the preservative deposits in wood cells at the microstructural level.