What is Acetylation? - Accsys Technologies PLC
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How we enhance nature

Acetylation is the process we use to enhance the properties of wood. In simple terms, it ‘pickles’ the wood, reducing how much water the cells in the wood can absorb. It does this without adding toxic chemicals to the final product, but by boosting the concentration of ‘acetyl groups’ – which are already found naturally in trees and their wood.

More specifically, our process uses acetic anhydride to change hydroxyl groups (which like water) into acetyl groups (which don’t like water), resulting in improved performance characteristics without introducing harmful or environmentally unfriendly additives.

All together, this means the wood shrinks and swells much less when wet, and is much less susceptible to decay or insect attack.

We use our proprietary acetylation process to enhance fast-growing, renewable and sustainably-sourced soft woods into a non-toxic material with qualities to compete with or outperform hardwoods, plastics and metals.

Why is water so important?

To understand the full benefits of using acetylated wood, we should point out the importance of how it interacts with water.

When making anything out of wood, it is water that ultimately causes a lot of problems.

Keep wood dry and well maintained and it’s one of the greatest materials of all time. Traditionally though, once water is introduced to the situation, problems can start to be seen: moisture makes untreated, badly-treated or unmodified wood susceptible to rotting, warping, splintering, swelling, shrinking and being food for hungry insects.

So, our wood acetylation process removes the issue at source by modifying the wood cells themselves to significantly reduce the effects of water, rather than by treating wood with a toxic chemical.

The result is real wood that is highly resistant to rotting, warping, swelling and shrinking. It maintains its structural integrity over time, meaning it’s much less likely to splinter – and even insects prefer not to attack or eat it. In fact, removing all these traditional issues means that acetylated wood presents even more benefits than just ‘not failing’: it is so dimensionally stable it helps coatings last much longer too, and its increased durability and long life helps safely trap and store the carbon in the wood for decades.