Feasibility of microwave disinfestation of wood

IRG/WP 95-40051

D Andreuccetti, M Bini, A Ignesti, A Gambetta, R Olmi

Microwaves have proved to be an effective means to disinfest worm-eaten woods. The use of microwave electromagnetic energy to increase the woodworm temperature to a lethal level presents several advantages with respect to other conventional techniques, such as liquid pesticides and gas chambers. In particular, there is not contamination of the treated wood and of the environment: stray electromagnetic fields around the wood object under treatment can be easily maintained below the safety levels by a proper design of the treatment chamber, and anyway they exist only when the microwave source is powered on. Furthermore, the risk of wood damage associated with the microwave treatment is very low: a preferential heating of the woodworm with respect to the surrounding wood has been observed, and theoretically justified. Extensive experiments have been conducted on larvae of Hylotrupes bajulus L. to determine the lethal temperature as a function of the larva weight and of the microwave exposure duration. An exposure time of 3-minutes at a temperature of 53°C has proved to be sufficient for destroying all the insects, without increasing the wood temperature to dangerous levels. Preliminary experiments have been conducted in a commercial microwave oven. A portable system for the microwave disinfestation of infested woods, using radiative applicators, is presently under development.


Conference: 95-05-11/16 Helsingør; Denmark

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