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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forestry (MS)

Administrative Home Department

College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Xinfeng Xie

Committee Member 1

Dana L. Richter

Committee Member 2

Rebecca G. Ong


It is well known that wood preservatives can significantly extend the service life of wood products, thereby expanding forest resources and increasing their sustainability. However, disposal of treated wood is an environmental concern due to residual preservatives in the wood. U.S. railroads use over 680 million cross ties, which are predominantly creosote-treated hardwoods; approximately 20 million of them are replaced each year. Achieving zero discharge of preservatives into waste streams is important for the life cycle management of treated wood. Liquefaction is one of the techniques which can convert treated wood biomass into useful liquid chemicals. This was researched widely in the 1980s and has become more and more popular. A previous study has developed an effective liquefaction process to extract purified lignin from wood biomass using specific amount of acid catalyst, temperature and reaction time. The objective of this study is to investigate the feasibility of using a liquefaction process to convert creosote-treated wood waste into useful chemicals. The liquid chemicals obtained from the liquefaction process was analyzed by FTIR and GC-MS and confirmed that recycled creosote is in the lignin fraction. This lignin-creosote fraction (Lignisote™) from creosote-treated red oak (Quercus rubra) was evaluated for decay resistance performance using the AWPA E10-16 soil block decay test and the results showed that Lignisote™ has equal efficacy with creosote in resistance to decay by N. lepideus, T. versicolor and I. lacteus. Therefore Lignisote™ is usable as a new wood preservative system. More than 30 customer discovery interviews were conducted for this research. This upcycling of railroad ties addresses the challenges of recycling, avoiding burning and landfill disposal, and recovering and reusing as wood preservative and performance chemicals. Our target customer, wood treating companies and chemical suppliers, will have an alternative choice of a high quality, high efficacy wood preservative at a lower cost.