Polyesterification of wood with sorbitol and citric acid (SCA) increases decay resistance against brown-rot and white-rot fungi without reducing cell wall moisture content but the SCA polymer is susceptible to hydrolysis. Background and Objectives:
SCA polyesterification is a low-cost, bio-based chemical wood modification system with potential for commercialisation. Materials and Methods:
This study investigates moisture-related properties and decay resistance in SCA-modified wood. Scots pine sapwood was polyesterified at 140 °C with various SCA solution concentrations ranging from 14–56% w/w. Dimensional stability was assessed and leachates were analysed with high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Chemical changes were characterized with attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) and spectra were quantitatively compared with peak ratios. Low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (LFNMR) relaxometry was used to assess water saturated samples and decay resistance was determined with a modified EN113 test. Results:
Anti-swelling efficiency (ASE) ranged from 23–43% and decreased at higher weight percentage gains (WPG). Reduced ASE at higher WPG resulted from increased water saturated volumes for higher treatment levels. HPLC analysis of leachates showed detectable citric acid levels even after an EN84 leaching procedure. ATR-FTIR analysis indicated increased ester content in the SCA-modified samples and decreased hydroxyl content compared to controls. Cell wall water assessed by non-freezing moisture content determined with LFNMR was found to increase because of the modification. SCA-modified samples resisted brown-rot and white-rot decay, with a potential decay threshold of 50% WPG. Sterile reference samples incubated without fungi revealed substantial mass loss due to leaching of the samples in a high humidity environment. The susceptibility of the SCA polymer to hydrolysis was confirmed by analysing the sorption behaviour of the pure polymer in a dynamic vapour sorption apparatus. Conclusions:
SCA wood modification is an effective means for imparting decay resistance but, using the curing parameters in the current study, prolonged low-level leaching due to hydrolysis of the SCA polymer remains a problem.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited