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Thermal Modification of Blue Stained, Fire Salvaged Timber


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.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Research Areas
Food & Agriculture
Food Systems and Consumer Products