A new process for preserving lumber

Friday 17 Apr 2020

Pressure treating – which involves putting lumber inside a pressurized watertight tank and forcing chemicals into the boards – has been used for more than a century to help stave off the fungus that causes wood rot in wet environments. Now Georgia Tech researchers have developed a new method that could one day replace conventional pressure treating as a way to make lumber not only fungal-resistant but also nearly impervious to water.

The new method, which was reported February 13 in the journal Langmuir, involves applying a protective coating of metal oxide that is only a few atoms thick throughout the entire cellular structure of the wood. This process, known as atomic layer deposition, is already frequently used in manufacturing microelectronics for computers and cell phones but now is being explored for new applications in commodity products such as wood.

Like pressure treatments, the process is performed in an airtight chamber, but in this case the chamber is at low pressures to help the gas molecules permeate the entire wood structure.

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