Advantage of vacuum versus nitrogen to achieve inert atmosphere during softwood thermal modification

Abstract : Wood heat treatment is an attractive alternative to improve decay resistance of wood species with low natural durability. Durability and mechanical properties are strongly correlated to thermal degradation of wood cells wall components. Mass loss resulting from this degradation is a good indicator of treatment intensity and final treated wood properties. Several types of convective heating processes exist currently differing mainly by the nature of the inert atmosphere used during treatment: nitrogen, steam or oil. Conductive heat treatment using vacuum as inert atmosphere is an attractive new alternative to previous classical methods. Heat transfer by conduction has been reported to provide better treatment homogeneity than heat transfer using convection. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of vacuum comparatively to nitrogen on the thermal degradation pathways and on the conferred properties to the material. It appears that utilization of vacuum permit a better control of thermal degradation reactions limiting the mass loss resulting from degradation of wood cell wall polymers. Chemical analysis indicates that wood heat treated under nitrogen present higher Klason lignin and carbon contents, lower hemicelluloses and neutral monosaccharides contents comparatively to wood heat treated under vacuum. At the same time, mechanical properties are less affected under vacuum, which constitute another advantage of this technology.
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PRO LIGNO - Open Access Scientific Journal in the Field of Wood Engineering, Fundaţia Pro Ligno, 2014, 10 (4), pp.10-17
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Kévin Candelier, Stéphane Dumarcay, Anélie Petrissans, Philippe Gerardin, Mathieu Pétrissans. Advantage of vacuum versus nitrogen to achieve inert atmosphere during softwood thermal modification. PRO LIGNO - Open Access Scientific Journal in the Field of Wood Engineering, Fundaţia Pro Ligno, 2014, 10 (4), pp.10-17. 〈hal-01592555〉

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