Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Limiting copper loss from treated wood in or near aquatic environments

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  • Copper migration from treated wood has created concerns within the environmental community because of the potential effects of this heavy metal on aquatic organisms. Migration can be limited, to some extent, by more controlled treatments and by post-treatment processing, but these actions cannot completely overcome the problem. An alternative approach to limit copper migration is to incorporate additives into the formulations that would either block or slow copper loss. Preliminary trials suggest that adding small amounts of Di(hydrogenated tallowalkyl)dimethyl ammonium chloride (2HT), a common fabric softener, to the treating solution can reduce copper losses in service. Reducing copper losses may also allow the use of lower initial preservative loadings. In this research, the potential for using 2HT was examined to reduce copper losses while maintaining preservative efficacy. The effect of the additive on leaching was assessed by soaking blocks in water over a 14-day period, then examining the resulting leachate. The incorporation of 2HT to alkaline copper-based and DDAC preservative solutions reduced the rate of copper migration from southern pine blocks subjected to laboratory leaching procedures by 5% to 14%. 2HT had no effect on loss rates for isothiazolone. Biological efficacy was assessed by exposing treated blocks to decay fungi in a soil block test. 2HT did not enhance the biological efficacy of copper azole nor isothiazolone in standard laboratory trials with a brown rot fungus, P. placenta. The potential for chemical interactions was assessed using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis. Results indicated that 2HT did not change the structure of wood, suggesting that 2HT reduces copper losses due to ionic interactions between the organic cationic end of the quaternary ammonium compound and the negatively charged surface of wood. This interaction leaves the hydrophobic end of the 2HT exposed to act as a water repellent, thereby excluding the water that would otherwise solubilize and remove copper from the wood. Results provide support for using this additive to limit copper losses into the environment.
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