An examination of the potential for the use of the Maillard reaction to modify wood

IRG/WP 18-40829

K Peeters, E Larnøy, A Kutnar, Č Tavzes, C A S Hill

Finding efficient ways to decrease wood decay caused by fungi and increasing its dimensional stability is an important issue in the timber construction. A possible way to avoid wood decay by fungi is by reducing the water content of wood, since water is a primary condition for fungal growth. Bulking of the wood cell wall by chemical reagents occupies the space where water normally occurs. At the same time this also improves the dimensional stability of the modified wood. However, for effective protection using impregnation modification, it is a requirement that the bulking agent is located in the cell wall of the wood and is non-leachable in service. A commercially-viable process also requires a water-based delivery system, the use of impregnation agents of low-toxicity, thermal-curing and no concerns regarding toxicity at end of life of the modified wood product. The aim of the work was to react non-toxic reagents using a Maillard type of reaction in the wood cell wall. Wood was soaked in different aqueous solutions with a primary amine and a sugar as the main constituents. The wood was thereafter cured in an oven at 120°C. The preliminary results showed that the use of the Maillard reaction for wood modification is a promising method and is worth further research.

Keywords: beech and pine, Maillard reaction, primary amines, sugars, thermal reaction, water deliverable, wood modification

Conference: 18-04-29/05-03 Johannesburg, South Africa

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