Back-to-the-future process yields 'miracle wood'

Aug 08, 2012

A back-to-the-future technology, first used more than 100 years ago, has put a new form of wood on the market – a veritable "miracle wood" that resists the moisture-induced bowing, swelling, cupping, shrinking and cracking that have been downsides of natural wood for thousands of years. The new "acetylated wood" is the topic of a story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).

Alexander H. Tullo, C&EN senior editor, explains that production of acetylated wood relies on a process much different from pressure treatment, which infuses insect- and rot-resistant chemicals into wood. Instead, the acetylation process uses heat, pressure and a substance termed acetic anhydride to permanently expand the cell walls in wood into a fixed position that resists water absorption. That absorption of moisture from the air, ground or rainfall underpins the familiar bending, bowing, rotting and other problems with natural wood.

The article points out that acetylation technology has been available for more than a century, and acetylated wood pulp has been used to make photographic film, cigarette filters, coatings for playing cards and other products. It is getting a second life thanks to technological advances made since similar products failed to get off the ground in the 1930s. Manufacturers such as Eastman Chemical and Accsys Technologies attribute its new success to the growing desire for green products. The new wood has similar properties to modern construction materials like aluminum and PVC but a much smaller carbon footprint. And although it costs about three and a half times more than untreated wood, Eastman's technology manager for acetylated says its durability makes it worth it for customers.

Explore further: Neutral self-assembling peptide hydrogel

More information: "Modifying Wood To Last, With Chemistry" cen.acs.org/articles/90/i32/Ma… ver-Acetylation.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Nanotechnology Treatment Protects Wood in Australia

Feb 07, 2005

Nanotec Pty Ltd based in Sydney, Australia announced today the start of the marketing of it’s wood protection product “Nanoseal Wood”. Nanoseal Wood is a water based, ultra hydrophobic, colloidal solution with self ass ...

Professor accused of telling secrets

Jan 16, 2006

A California biotech company has reportedly filed a legal action against a University of Connecticut professor, alleging he disclosed trade secrets.

Pine transformed by modern alchemists

Jan 27, 2012

Swiss researchers have given pinewood the hardness and smooth touch of precious wood. L’EPFL+ECAL Lab presents the first objects made of this new material in Helsinki today.

Recommended for you

Neutral self-assembling peptide hydrogel

29 minutes ago

Self-assembling peptides are characterized by a stable β-sheet structure and are known to undergo self-assembly into nanofibers that could further form a hydrogel. Self-assembling peptide hydrogels have ...

Scientists make droplets move on their own

20 hours ago

Droplets are simple spheres of fluid, not normally considered capable of doing anything on their own. But now researchers have made droplets of alcohol move through water. In the future, such moving droplets may deliver medicines, ...

User comments : 0