Oleh Azman Zakaria
Foto oleh Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, Dec 15 - A team of researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysai (UPM) has succeeded in creating a new, efficient and practical method of producing high-performance oil palm woods (OPW) using under-utilized, low quality oil palm stems.
This new technology is developed with the objective of producing new, quality alternative for wood materials using under-utilized oil palm stem biomass.
The research, led by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Edi Suhaimi Bakar from the Department of Forest Production (Wood Machining and Quality Improvement) of the Forestry Faculty, UPM, commenced in 2004 and was completed in 2014.
Assoc. Prof. Dr Edi Suhaimi said the technology could help resolve some problems relating to supply of woods, piling of trunk wastes in palm oil estates, and generate additional income for planters.
He said through this innovation, low-quality oil palm woods in terms of strength, durability, dimensional stability and machining properties were filled with phenol resin as a treatment base to improve the quality of woods before they were compressed in high temperature.
He added that the process featuring penetration of phenol resin which is water-resistant into the woods, will increase the overall density of woods and reduce the density gradient between the wood structures.
“This process will result in the production of very durable compreg oil palm woods with high strength (Class 1), high dimensional stability or water-resistant, and excellent machinability (Class 1 and 2), making them superbly fitting for the production of high-performance furniture and structural materials.”
He explained that palm oil stems from replanting wastes were sawn and treated using phenol resin inclusion through a 6-step method, an improvement from the old 5-step method which is time-consuming and tedious.
The new method, he said, featured sawing (using reverse cant sawing specific method), compressing (to reduce moisture content to create micro cracks needed to expedite drying and ease resin inclusion, drying (at higher temperature), resin penetration (by way of soaking), heating (at a more higher temperature) and hot pressing.
He also said the quality and properties of compreg OPW produced through this method were similar to those manufactured using the old method (5-step).
“In comparison, this 6-step method is eight times faster than the 5-step method, with the sawing and resin inclusion processes much easier and highly effective for wood-based products manufacturers.
“This technology allows the production of high performance compreg oil palm woods from low quality oil palm wastes in a more efficient manner and in all practicality. – UPM
Sekolah Pengajian Siswazah
Universiti Putra Malaysia
43400 UPM Serdang
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia