Wood is an amazing material with many possibilities and practical applications. One of the major drawbacks of wood though, especially softwood, is how it interacts with water. Moisture causes the wood to swell and shrink, and accelerates damage and decay.
So, what is acetylation?
Wood naturally contains some acetyls, but also a lot of ‘free hydroxyls’ – these are what water binds to, causing all those problems. In our reactors, our process uses acetic anhydride – essentially very strong vinegar – to boost the acetyl content of the wood, replacing those hydroxyls…meaning water is no longer an issue.
This means we’re not adding anything to the wood that wasn’t already there – no toxic elements that could later leach out – we are really enhancing the natural qualities of the wood.
Even the by-product of our process is part of the circular economy: acetic acid is valued in its own right, used in other products, processes or even turned back into acetic anhydride – offering a potentially ‘closed loop’ cycle for our chemistry.
We constantly refine and improve our processes to improve quality and efficiency, and research the effects with different wood species.