'Hot oil bath’: PH develops alternative method of preserving bamboo using oil heat treatment

Taking a cue from Europe’s thermal modification (TM) technology, the Philippines has developed its alternative method of preserving bamboo using oil heat treatment.


The development of a “hot oil bath” technology for bamboo was initiated by the Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) and funded by DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources (PCAARRD) under the agency’s Grants-In-Aid (GIA) program, DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña said.

"The DOST-FPRDI through a DOST-PCAARRD-GIA funded project developed a hot oil bath that utilizes spent cooking oil as an alternative to fresh vegetable oils to reduce cost of the heating medium,” he said in a report.

"The equipment’s fabrication cost was about P500,000 which is significantly cheaper compared to imported counterpart (more than a million pesos), making the equipment more affordable to small and medium bamboo processing industries/enterprises,” he noted.

The DOST chief said the equipment has been used to oil-heat-treat eight-feet-long bamboo poles.

"The bamboo poles treated from the equipment have been characterized in terms of machinability, gluability and finish ability,” he said.

He noted that optimized oil heat treatment conditions have been established based on the properties of the oil-heat treated bamboo.

"The oil-heat treatment of bamboo can be an alternative method of protecting bamboo (versus toxic chemical preservatives) against attack of wood boring insects such as powder-post beetles and termites and can also provide protection against decay fungi.Hence, oil heat-treated bamboo can be ideal for making product designs for both outdoor use and indoor applications,” de la Peña said.

He cited that thermal modification (TM) of ligno-cellulosic material such as wood and bamboo has slowly gained popularity as an alternative method of prolonging their service life and improving its dimensional stability and color.

He said the technology, which originated in European countries, has spread to other parts of the world including Southeast Asian countries.

“The principle of TM is the heating of the wood or bamboo to a very high temperature that ranges from 160°C to 240°C to eliminate the nutrients that attract insects and decay fungi and at the same time improving the dimensional stability of wood or bamboo.”

"Heating media can be hot air in a steam environment or hot liquid such as various kinds of vegetable oil.”