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Revolutionary Timber Treatment Process

Crustim: media release

An Auckland company has begun an overseas marketing bid to sell an innovative process that revolutionises timber treatment.

The new process - developed by Crusader Engineering Ltd and Forest Research - cuts timber processing costs in half by allowing continuous treatment of timber as an extension of the production line.

Traditionally, timber is treated in batches, taking up to two hours, depending on the process.

The new system treats to specification in less than 80 seconds.

Crusader managing director Peter Snoad says the new patented process, called TILT - Timber In Line Treatment - was developed initially for fast, economic treatment of dry structural framing timbers.

"TILT uses boron as the active ingredient - though other preservative ingredients can also be used - and methanol as the carrier to diffuse the preservative into the cells of the wood," Mr Snoad says.

"A solvent recovery system is incorporated into the process, and it is envisaged that up to 90 per cent of the solvent will be recovered and re-used in the process."

A prototype plant allowed the science and technology to be tested and proven.

Technology New Zealand invested in Crusader's research project through its Technology for Business Growth scheme.

"We estimate that based on 150,000 cubic metres - or 63.75 million board feet - annual throughput, the cost of treatment through the TILT plant will be half the cost of comparable dry framing treatment processes, and this includes the return on investment," Mr Snoad says.

He says that while New Zealand is allowing high temperature kiln-dried framing timber to be used without any treatment against rot, decay or insect attack, countries such as the United States and Australia are moving towards treating framing timbers.

"Larger corporate sawmills in New Zealand are moving into the dry framing market with kiln-dried untreated framing, so it might be difficult to establish the first TILT plant in New Zealand," Mr Snoad says.

"However, prospects overseas are very real."

He says timber today needs to be treated because the world is moving away from using naturally durable insect and fungi-resistant hardwoods from tropical rainforests and other native sources.

"Fast plantation-grown softwoods, such as pine, are not durable and need protection with 'eco-friendly' preservatives," he says.

"Boron is a naturally occurring element effective against insects and fungi, and is much less toxic than some of the naturally produced chemicals produced by many species of trees."

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