MSU research speeds wood preservative testing


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Posted: 6/30/2000


Researchers at Mississippi State are dramatically speeding up the processes for testing environmentally friendly wood preservatives.

New procedures and equipment developed by the university's Forest and Wildlife Research Center are reducing by half the time it takes to determine if newly developed wood preservatives effectively prevent decay. They will replace methods developed in the 1950s--and still in use--that can take eight to 10 years to complete.

"Our new test procedures simulate the outdoors," said Darrel D. Nicholas, a scientist at the research center's Forest Products Laboratory. "The procedure involves the addition of water in soil tubes to simulate the below-ground testing. For above-ground simulation, we employ a humidity- and moisture-enriched laboratory."

Nicholas said speeding the testing period is critical because of increased governmental restrictions on the use of traditional products.

"Our goal is to develop wood preservatives that are both environmentally friendly and effective at preventing wood decay," he said.

He said long-standing methods of visual inspection to determine decay have proven ineffective in spotting early decay.

"With new equipment developed at the Forest Products Laboratory, we can test the mechanical properties of wood, including bending strength, changes in compression strength and torsion strength," Nicholas said. "Changes in these properties have proven excellent measures of the extent to which fungi is causing early decay."

In addition to being more effective, the compression strength test reduces from 14 weeks to six weeks the time needed for laboratory decay tests.

For additional information on the new processes and equipment, contact Nicholas at telephone (662) 325-8838 or by e-mail at

Forest Products