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Official Journal of the Japan Wood Research Society

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Changes in the physical and chemical properties of six Japanese softwoods caused by lengthy smoke-heating treatment

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The effects of prolonged smoke-heating treatments on wood quality were investigated. Six Japanese softwoods were smoke-heated for 100 and 200 h at a temperature of 75° ± 5°C, which was recorded inside the log. After smoke heating, wood quality, including moisture content, amounts of chemical components, relative degree of crystallinity (RDC) of cellulose, and sapwood color were examined. Moisture content decreased as a result of smoke heating, especially in sapwood, leading to a uniform distribution of moisture content within a log. Almost no difference was found in the amounts of chemical components between the control woods and the woods that were smoke-heated for 100 h. However, in the wood that was smoke-heated for 200 h, the amounts of holocellulose decreased, suggesting that thermal deterioration and/or degradation of hemicelluloses had occurred. We assume that the increase in RDC was caused by smoke heating with the crystallization of cellulose and/or thermal degradation of hemicelluloses. Almost no differences were found in sapwood color between the control woods and the woods that were smoke-heated for 100 h. In the wood that was smoke-heated for 200 h, however, ΔL*decreased, whereas Δa* and Δb* increased. As a result, ΔE*ab, showing the total color change, increased, resulting in a deeper color. These results suggest that thermal degradation of hemicelluloses was caused by smoke heating for over 100 h. Therefore, smoke heating of softwood logs using a commercial-scale kiln should not exceed 100 h.

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Correspondence to Nobuo Yoshizawa.

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Key words

  • Smoke heating
  • Moisture content
  • Chemical components
  • Degree of crystallinity
  • Sapwood color