Potential Use of the Pigment from Scytalidium cuboideum and Chlorociboria aeruginosa as an UV-light Protection Additive in Oil Finishes
S M Vega Gutierrez, D W Stone, R He3, P T Vega Gutierrez, Z M Walsh, S C Robinson
UV-light degradation of wood is one of the top reasons for consumer replacement of outdoor wooden structures. This type of degradation is seldom mechanical, and is instead often motivated by loss of aesthetics (graying). There are numerous commercial products available on the market that deal with this loss of color, many of which contain added pigments to ‘rejuvenate’ or ‘revitalize’ greyed wood. These pigments are almost uniformly synthetic.
In contrast, pigments from wood decay fungi (spalting), which have been used in woodworking since the 1400s (intarsia), have remarkable optical (UV-light resistance) properties due to their naphthoquinonic configuration. These fungi have evolved to digest certain wood components and to persist in their environment, making them very stable. In recent years the pigments made from these fungi have been extracted and tested across numerous substrates, from solar cells to textile dyes. In this work, researchers extracted pigments from Scytalidium cuboideum (red pigmentation) and Chlorociboria aeruginosa (blue-green pigmentation), solubilized the pigments in raw linseed oil, and tested the resulting solution on samples of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and western white pine (Pinus monticola). These mixtures were compared against a ‘stain and coat’ treatment (utilizing an aniline stain and coated with raw linseed oil), raw linseed oil, and untreated wood. The wood samples were then placed in an accelerated weathering machine (Q-UV), using the ASTM G154 standard, for 500 and 1000 hours. The results showed that while no visible color change occurred to the wood when the pigmented oil was applied, the red pigment oil significantly lowered the coating degradation for both wood types at an exposure of 500 hours. The results show the potential applications for fungal pigments in the wood coating industry, as it offers an increased coating service life. As there is a shift to renewable products, the pigments from wood decay fungi show potential as additives for wood coatings.