Surface Free Energy of Blue-Stained Southern Pine Sapwood from Bark Beetle-Attacked Trees


  • Nathan S. Little
  • T. Eric McConnell
  • Nathan E. Irby
  • Sheldon Q. Shi
  • John J. Riggins


Blue-stain, bark beetle, dynamic contact angle, southern pine, surface-free energy, wood composite


Blue-stained wood cut from bark beetle-attacked southern pine has a lower economic value than unstained wood. Wood composite products containing blue-stained wood may offer an opportunity to recover some lost timber value. This study investigated the surface-free energy of blue-stained wood. Southern pine sapwood samples with and without blue stain from both green and kiln-dried sources were obtained. Dynamic contact angle analyses were performed using three probe liquids: ethylene glycol, formamide, and deionized water. Surface-free energy was determined by applying the geometric mean model using two-liquid pairs with deionized water. The polar forces were higher across all wood types and in water-ethylene glycol vs water-formamide. Surface-free energy of air-dried blue-stained sapwood was lower than all other wood types. However, kiln-dried blue-stained sapwood had a higher surface-free energy than all other wood types. These results were indicative of a tree's wound response to bark beetle attack, the volatilization of naturally occurring hydrocarbons in southern pine sapwood, and the resulting increase in wood permeability caused by blue-stained fungal colonization across the sapwood. However, improvements in wetting observed for kiln-dried blue-stained sapwood may lead to cost and quality issues in wood composite manufacturing associated with overdrying and overpenetration of an adhesive.


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