Effects of artificial UV weathering and soft rot decay on heat treated wood
M D C Hale, S C Ghosh, M J Spear
Oil and inert gas oven heat treated pine wood strips 100 µm thick were mildly heat treated (200°C, 30 mins linseed oil, 120 mins oven). Following treatment, specimens were exposed to UV weathering (300 hours) and decay by the soft rot fungus, Chaetomium globosum. The effects of each treatment were assessed by zero span tensile testing, microscopy and by FTIR.
Tensile testing of heat treated strips showed greater strength losses in the oil treated samples (73%) than in the oven treated samples (26% loss). Heat treatment darkened the wood strips but this was photo-bleached on exposure to UV artificial weathering. The UV exposure caused some loss in tensile strength (35%) but the additional effects of UV on the tensile strength were less in heat treated wood (oil 15%, oven 18%). The combined effects of UV and fungi on the tensile strengths were less severe for treated wood than in untreated wood, (oil 4%, oven 18%) thus some protection was afforded by the heat tretaments. Exposure of untreated wood strips to the soft rot fungus caused some loss in tensile strength (32%), but heat treated wood showed small but not statistically significant gains in tensile strength after fungal exposure (oil, gain 30%, oven, gain 3%).
Microscopic examination confirmed that a soft rot was minimal in heat treated samples, i.e. it was mainly confined to wood cell wall penetration. The combined effects of UV and fungi caused further losses of tensile strength in both oven and oil heat treated samples, but this loss was less severe than that which occurred in untreated controls. However, due to the severity of the initial losses caused by the oil heat treatment, the highest losses overall were in those oil heat treated samples exposed to UV (82%) and UV and decay (78%). Microscopic examination revealed that decay was more advanced in UV exposed samples. The FTIR spectra of oven heat treated samples did not show any change, while the oil heat treated samples increased absorbance at 1737cm-1 and 1450cm-1 relating to the presence of oil. Following fungal decay, no changes were observed, this corresponds with the cavity attack by soft rot fungi, which leave adjacent portions of cell wall material untouched. The ultra violet exposure affected the spectra of all specimens, increasing the absorbance at 1737cm-1. This relates to photo-degradation of the hemicelluloses, forming new carbonyl groups. In the UV exposed untreated wood there were also increases in absorbance at 1510 and 1160cm-1 relating to alterations in lignin structure.