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SURFASAM — Result In Brief

Project ID: 12467
Funded under: FP6-SME
Country: France

Non-toxic wood treatment offers promise for SMEs

Wood offers many advantages over concrete in terms of aesthetics, cost and environmental impact. However, wood products suffer when exposed to the elements, which could result in irreparable damage.
Non-toxic wood treatment offers promise for SMEs
Until recently, toxic substances such as arsenic were used to treat timber for use outdoors – but these have since been banned. A new, non-toxic treatment that extends the lifetime of timber now places several thousand small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a position to exploit the rapidly growing interest in this material.

In order to increase the competitiveness of wood in the construction industry, threats from moisture, pests and fungal disease must be overcome without endangering wood industry professionals or the environment. This challenge was taken up by participants of the 'Innovative 'green wood treatment' to achieve Risk Class4 protection' (Surfasam) project, which received funding from the EU.

A great deal of effort was put into selecting the right types of wood to be tested with a range of new, ecologically sound treatments. Criteria for inclusion included availability of sufficient stock in Europe, usability in construction applications and suitability for standardised testing protocols. Both hardwoods and softwoods were selected for the Surfasam trials.

Following a period of conditioning at a constant temperature, pieces of varying size of oak, beech, Scots pine and spruce were impregnated with several different treatments. The new treatments were developed using natural ingredients, namely sunflower and rapeseed oil, which are rich in linoleic and oleic acid respectively. The trials indicated that these green alternatives can deliver Class4 level of protection similar to that provided by conventional alkaline sulphite anthraquinone methanol (ASAM) products.

Project developments are expected to provide a boost to the thousands of SMEs involved in the timber supply chain in Europe.

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