Comparative studies on the distribution of lignin and CCA elements in birch using electron microscopic X-ray microanalysis
G F Daniel, T Nilsson
The microdistribution of metal preservatives in treated wood has received considerable research over the last two decades. Despite this, little effort seems to have been made to try and correlate the distribution of CCA elements with respect to naturally occurring wood cell wall components in wood. In the present preliminary study an attempt is made to relate the distribution of lignin in-situ with that of CCA elements. For the study matched samples of Betula verrucosa were first either mercurized to specifically label the lignin or vacuum impregnated with a commercial 2% K33 CCA preservative solution. Thereafter using SEM-EDXA, the relative distribution of labelled lignin and CCA elements were compared for both different cell types and cell wall regions. Results showed the relative microdistribution of CCA to follow closely that of the lignin distribution. Regions showing high lignin levels showed high CCA levels and vice-versa. Highest CCA and lignin levels were recorded in the vessel, fibre and ray middle lamella cell corners regions while the lowest levels were detected in the fibre (S2) secondary walls. Both the low lignin level (and syringyl type) and CCA uptake in fibre S2 walls would seem in close agreement with the known high susceptibility of these elements to soft rot attack in both treated and untreated birch. Comparisons made between the lignin content of the S2 layer for birch fibres and other known soft rot resistant species (e.g. Alstonia scholaris) showed great differences, with the latter showing much higher lignin (ca 3x) levels.