Eucalypt wood (Eucalyptus globulus) was heated in an oven for 2–24 h at 170–200°C and in an autoclave with superheated and saturated steam for 2–12 h at 190–210°C. The chemical composition of untreated wood and thermally treated wood with different mass losses in the range of 1.1–11.9% was studied by summative analysis, and the composition of dichloromethane, ethanol and water extracts was determined by gas chromatography mass spectometry (GC-MS). The hemicelluloses degraded first, mainly regarding the arabinose and xylose moieties. Lignin degraded at a slower rate and cellulose was only slightly affected under severe treatment conditions. The extractive content increased first with heat treatment and decreased later on. Almost all of the original extractives disappeared and new compounds were formed, such as anhydrosugars, mannosan, galactosan, levoglucosan and two C5 anhydrosugars. The most prominent lignin derived compounds were syringaldehyde, syringic acid and sinapaldehyde. The main difference between autoclave and oven treated samples was the appearance of more oxidized extractives for the oven treatment.
©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York