A recent study published in Industrial Crops and Products aims to determine whether using plant-derived extracts would enhance long-term wood protection.
While fast-growing tree species like acacia and poplar bolster wood supplies to meet demand, many have been utilizing toxic preservatives to protect wood. However, toxicity concerns have caused demand for a less toxic alternative way to protect wood long-term.
Complicated extraction processes have initiated concerns regarding the economic benefits of using various extracts, such as forsythia, olive, and Sophora flavescens extracts. Even though these offer impressive decay resistance, there’s still a need for a more eco-friendly method of preserving wood.
The study’s researchers understood the potential of extracts after observing how heat-treated wood sawdust works as a natural substitute for wood preservatives. However, they revealed that a mild enzyme-catalyzed method improves its leaching resistance even further.
The researchers used extracts from heat-treated spruce lumber to catalyze grafting reactions with blue multi-copper oxidases (laccases). This resulted in extracts that they then analyzed for anti-fungal activity before using them to treat popular blocks.
Through Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), the analysts were able to observe the extracts’ reactions. They also used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to report on the grafted compounds.
During the study, the researchers analyzed acetone extracts from both heat-treated spruce and larch, showcasing perseverance against the test fungi. They also took heat-treated spruce and larch acetone extracts that they grafted on modified popular and observed how they reacted to white-rot fungus and brown-rot fungus leaching. It displayed better activity against the white-rot fungus than the brown-rot fungus.
Looking at the FTIR and XPS results, heat-treated larch and spruce extracts were grafted onto poplar through laccase catalysis. The results of this study show that it’s possible to use laccase-mediated pre-treatment of plant extracts to improve wood resistance to leaching. However, the study recommends more trials with other plant extracts.
The researchers revealed that enzyme modification is mild and eco-friendly. These plant-derived extracts change woods to make them more appealing for their environmental benefits, including lessening environmental pollution.
This study explored the idea to use enzymatic pre-treatment for extracts from thermally modified woods to make less durable woods stronger. Ultimately, the result was that eco-friendly preservative wood is made possible with wood industry by-product utilization.