Thermo-Modification of Wood
State-of-Art Value-Added Technology
The Art of Thermo Modification
Thermo modification (thermo treatment) of wood is a modern 100% “Green” alternative to pressure treatment of lumber. Thermo treatment uses extremely high temperatures (400 degrees F) and water steam with no chemicals added. The thermal modification cycle includes preliminary drying under water-saturated conditions to reach residual stress relief, heating up to the temperatures of wood treatment (in an oxygen-free environment) exposure to the given temperatures, cooling down with condensation, and moisture saturation of the treated wood. Steam is used to prevent the wood from burning or cracking and creates chemical changes which result in a durable, weather-resistant, and stable wood product. The equilibrium moisture content (EMC) of thermally modified wood products is reduced to 4-6% even outdoors. This process changes the color of lumber to a gold-brown tint that is consistent beyond the surface and creates an exotic wood look. The thermal modification also significantly improves various characteristics of wood such as dimensional stabilization and protection against rot and decay. As a result, this new generation of wood material has a lot of applications indoors and outdoors: decking, siding, fences, landscape design, flooring (especially for high humidity areas), sound barriers for autostradas, outdoor wood furniture, musical instruments, doors, windows, docks areas, boardwalks, and much more.
Several thermo treating technologies were first used in the mid-1990s in Finland and France. Presently, thermo treatment technology is conquering the world. In the European Union, chemical additives usage in wood protection was prohibited in 2004. In the USA and Canada, no chemical wood protection additives are allowed in such sectors as children's playground production, decks for waterfront homes, pallets for transportation of foods since 2005. The "Green" alternative of chemically-treated wood is thermally modified wood. The thermo-treatment market continuously grows in Europe in the last 20 years.