The research activity of Wood Biodegradation and Wood Preservation Laboratory is focused on the durability of wood against wood-destroying organisms, especially fungi, insects and marine borers. The natural durability of wood is an intrinsic characteristic of trees, with a variable range of intra- and inter-specific variability. This property of wood has important technological implications, since it affects the service life of a wooden product. The determination of the natural durability of tree genotypes is a way to supply the wood resource (local and/or clonal) with an added value, which can be helpful to address the material to the most appropriate use.
According to the use class, the wood can be protected from potential biodegradation through a preservation treatment. However, the use of most common active ingredients has been increasingly restricted, due to toxicity and environmental concerns (eg CCA). This is one of the reasons why there is a strong interest in research to develop sustainable industrial processes and preservatives. In line with this issue, the Laboratory of Wood Biodegradation and Wood Preservation is committed to the development and evaluation of preservative compounds and processes with low environmental impact. This task is accomplished in national and international partnerships with research institutions, public and private enterprises.
Another way to promote a sustainable use of wood is to limit to a minimum the use of wood preservatives; a significant contribution can be given to this issue by the understanding of interactions mechanisms between the wood and the xylophagous organisms and also by the evaluation of natural durability of wood genotypes. Finally, the early characterization of natural durability (on standing trees), and fast and reliable evaluation techniques are the new methodological frontiers pursued by the Laboratory.
Characterization and development of low environmental impact wood preservatives
The European legislation has imposed restrictions on the use of the traditional wood preservatives. These constraints have driven the research to focus on innovative wood preservatives, with low toxicity and low environmental impact as essential requirements. The research targets are products with reduced level of metal salts and processes providing effective fixation of the active ingredients to the wood.
Evaluation of natural durability of different genotypes derived from forests and from plantations
The knowledge of the natural durability is an essential requirement for a rational use of the timber: it allows for a limited use of preservatives, in function of the service condition of the final product. Moreover, the determination of the natural durability of both wild and selected genotypes, represents an added value to autochthones and clonal wood resources.
Development of innovative methodology for the determination of natural durability
Development of new method for the determination of natural durability, supposed to be accelerated, reliable and micro-invasive for the trees.