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Resistance of thermally modified ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) wood under steam pressure against rot fungi, soil-inhabiting micro-organisms and termites

Candelier K., Hannouz S., Thévenon M.F., Guibal D., Gerardin P., Pétrissans M., Collet R.. 2017. European Journal of Wood and Wood Products, 75 (2) : p. 249-262.

DOI: 10.1007/s00107-016-1126-y

Thermal modification processes have been developed to increase the biological durability and dimensional stability of wood. The aim of this paper was to study the influence of ThermoWood® treatment intensity on improvement of wood decay resistance against soil-inhabiting micro-organisms, brown/white rots and termite exposures. All of the tests were carried out in the laboratory with two different complementary research materials. The main research material consisted of ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) wood thermally modified at temperatures of 170, 200, 215 and 228 °C. The reference materials were untreated ash and beech wood for decay resistance tests, untreated ash wood for soil bed tests and untreated ash, beech and pine wood for termite resistance tests. An agar block test was used to determine the resistance to two brown-rot and two white-rot fungi according to CEN/TS 15083-1 directives. Durability against soil-inhabiting micro-organisms was determined following the CEN/TS 15083-2 directives, by measuring the weight loss, modulus of elasticity (MOE) and modulus of rupture (MOR) after incubation periods of 24, 32 and 90 weeks. Finally, Reticulitermes santonensis species was used for determining the termite attack resistance by non-choice screening tests, with a size sample adjustment according to EN 117 standard directives on control samples and on samples which have previously been exposed to soil bed test. Thermal modification increased the biological durability of all samples. However, high thermal modification temperature above 215 °C, represented by a wood mass loss (ML%) due to thermal degradation of 20%, was needed to reach resistance against decay comparable with the durability classes of ''durable'' or ''very durable'' in the soil bed test. The brown-rot and white-rot tests gave slightly better durability classes than the soil bed test. Whatever the heat treatment conditions are, thermally modified ash wood was not efficient against termite attack neither before nor after soft rot degradation.

Mots-clés : fraxinus excelsior; bois; durabilité; traitement thermique; résistance aux organismes nuisibles; termitidae; isoptera; biodégradation; préservation du bois; durabilité naturelle

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