Thermal Modification of Blue Stained, Fire Salvaged Timber

Start Date: 
Jun 1, 2018
End Date: 
May 31, 2020
Summary: 

The area of forest killed by wildfires, insect infestations and drought within the interior west has dramatically increased recently. If left standing, these dead trees are quickly attacked by a fungus that leaves a bluish discoloration in the wood that can reduce the value of the logs to zero. This project aims to demonstrate that thermal modification (TM) can be used to salvage blue-stained pine logs and increase the value of blue-stained lumber. The TM process permanently darkens the blue-stained lumber (thereby reducing or eliminating the blue-stain discoloration) while modifying its physical and mechanical properties so that it has lower water absorption, greater dimensional stability, and increased resistance to insect and fungal degradation. As a result, TM blue-stained lumber should be well suited to the manufacture of a wide variety of outdoor products. Although the closure of many small and medium-sized sawmills in the interior west has left rural timber-dependent communities reeling economically, the outcomes of this project will help to offset this economic decline by increasing: 1) the harvesting of dead pine trees, 2) the price of blue-stained pine lumber and 3) employment within the logging, transportation and forest products manufacturing sectors.

Sponsor: 
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)