Three Researchers Develop a Treatment for Wood Derived from Whey

Problems associated with wood that has been exposed to the elements may have been solved using an environmentally-friendly process by three researchers at Laval University.

Professors Julien Chamberland and Véronic Landry of the Department of Wood and Forestry Sciences, and Professor Gaétan Laroche of the Department of Mining, Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, have developed a process to transform the ultrafiltration permeate from lactoserum – otherwise known as the cloudy liquid floating at the surface of yogurt, also known as “whey,” into a protective coating for wood.

The process involves using a solution made from this permeate, citric acid and glycerol, among other non-toxic compounds, to prevent the wood from swelling and contracting repeatedly.

The details of their research were recently presented in Vancouver at the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference.

Lactoserum is the fluid that remains once the majority of the protein and fat have been extracted from the milk to produce cheese,” explains Julien Chamberland in a news release shared by Le Soleil. “There are processes to valorize residual lactoserum proteins, but they also generate an abundant volume of permeate – we’re talking about more than 500 million liters each year in Quebec – that must also be valorized.”

Tests are underway at the Montmorency Forest to determine the product’s effectiveness and durability over short and long terms. “Our work could lead to the creation of new markets for under-valued species such as trembling aspen,” explains Véronic Landry.

Samples of white spruce, a species much more commonly used in construction, are also being tested.

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