Spruce samples, naturally aged for 200, 400 and 500 years, artificially aged by a hydrothermal treatment (at 180, 160 or 130°C, relative air humidities of 14%, 40%, or 60% and for treatment times between 1 to 50 h), as well as reference samples, were analysed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) attenuated total reflection (FTIR-ATR) and ultraviolet resonance Raman (UVRR) spectroscopy. Natural ageing mostly affected the hemicelluloses and lignin, as observed from the FTIR-ATR and UVRR spectra, respectively. The UVRR spectra of the same samples after acetone extraction indicated that lignin was partially degraded and quinone structures were possibly formed. Artificial ageing at 160°C showed a significant change in the lignin structure, a well-known effect in the thermal treatment of wood, whereas treatment at 130°C did not alter the wood structure to any significant extent. Principal component analysis of the UVRR spectra confirmed that the spectra of artificially aged wood up to 160°C are dissimilar to naturally aged wood and which are also dissimilar to unaged wood.
©2012 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston