Esteves, B., Ferreira, H., Viana, H., Ferreira, J., Domingos, I., Cruz-Lopes, L., Jones, D. & Nunes, L. (2021) Termite resistance, chemical and mechanical characterization of Paulownia tomentosa wood before and after heat treatment.Forests, 12(8), 1114. DOI:10.3390/f12081114 (IF2020 2,633; Q2 Forestry)
The introduction of new species in forest management must be undertaken with a degree of care, to help prevent the spread of invasive species. However, new species with higher profitability are needed to increase forest products value and the resilience of rural populations. Paulownia tomentosa has an extremely fast growth. The objective and novelty of this work was to study the potential use of young Paulownia trees grown in Portugal by using heat treatment to improve its properties, thereby allowing higher value applications of the wood. The average chemical composition of untreated and heat-treated wood was determined. The extractive content was determined by successive Soxhlet extraction with dichloromethane (DCM), ethanol and water as solvents. The composition of lipophilic extracts was performed by injection in GC-MS with mass detection. Insoluble and soluble lignin, holocellulose and α-cellulose were also determined. Physical (density and water absorption and dimensional stability) and mechanical properties (bending strength and bending stiffness) and termite resistance was also determined. Results showed that extractive content increased in all solvents, lignin and α-cellulose also increased and hemicelluloses decreased. Compounds derived from the thermal degradation of lignin were found in heat-treated wood extractions. Dimensional stability improved but there was a decrease in mechanical properties. Resistance against termites was better for untreated wood than for heat-treated wood, possibly due to the thermal degradation of some toxic extractives.