Rubberwood furniture is prone to fungal attacks. Research has shown that metal-oxide nanoparticles can protect rubberwood from fungal damage. But the method is not eco-friendly.
Certain plant extracts, when applied,can also reduce wood decay. But only to a limited extent.
What if we combine plant extracts with metal-oxide nanoparticles, wondered K.S.Shiny and team from the Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bengaluru.
To formulate nanoparticles,the researchers used copper sulphate solution as a precursor,and mixed it with aqueous leaf extracts of two plants with known wood protectant properties, Lantana camara and Nerium oleander.
Lantana camara Image: Alvesgaspar. Nerium oleander, Image: Ian W Fieggen, Wikimedia Commons
They pressure treated rubberwood cubes with the formulations and exposed them to brown-rot fungi. After twelve weeks, they calculated weight loss in the cubes as per the Bureau of Indian Standards
Wood cubes exposed to brown-rot, without any formulation, reduced by half in weight. Treating nanoparticles made with Lantana camara extract resulted in a weight loss of 23 per cent. Cubes treated with a formulation of nanoparticles with Nerium oleander extracts had minimal weight loss – only 13 per cent.
The researchers then performed a similar experiment by exposing rubberwood cubes to white-rot fungus.
“Formulating the nanoparticles with Lantana camara significantly reduced wood decay by white-rot. Nanoparticles with Nerium oleander were not effective”, says Ramachandran Sundararaj, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bengaluru.
The higher effectiveness of the nanoparticles synthesised using the plant extracts may be attributed to the combined effect of the nanoparticles and the leaf extracts, explain the researchers.
“We have to analyse the effect of these formulations against fungal attacks on other furniture woods”, says K. S. Shiny, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Bengaluru.
“These formulations would be cost-effective for furniture industries to keep wood healthy”, says Sreeja Nair, her colleague.
Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Goa
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