Science & Technology

Walailak University with the world's first time success in freezing oil palm wood with no surface collapses

  Walailak University, led by the research team from the Center of Excellence in Wood and Biomaterials, has recently made a scientific breakthrough - the method to eliminate the collapse of oil palm wood during extremely severe drying. The technique comes out as a key to addressing the issue in the wood processing industry for over 30 years. The finding has been published in Drying Technology.

      The research team led by Associate Prof. Dr. Nirundorn Matan, Head of the Center of Excellence in Wood and Biomaterials, Walailak University together with Mr. Choosak Rittiphet and Ms. Peeraya Settapong, doctoral degree students from the Materials Science and Innovation program, and Ms. Kamolwun Dumyang, Master’s degree student, all from School of Engineering and Technology, has officially announced the unprecedented Pre-treatment method helping to reduce collapse in oil palm wood and others of identical properties during drying . 

     Drying oil palm wood is trickier than other types. Given its higher moisture content, maintaining the wood’s physical properties with no collapses on the surface is quite a challenge. For the first time, this unprecedented innovation can address the problems having plagued wood industry for over 30 years. Its applicability also expands to other types of wood possessing similar properties.The process is called Pre-treatment - the method built upon the existing rubber wood drying process. The wood will first be filled with fluid before being frozen at - 10 Celsius. Deeper on a microscale level, in the intercellular space, the fluid, in this case water, will be frozen to create microcracks at the pit cavities to relieve capillary pressure during drying. Therefore, the final dry wood products are taken out with no collapses - the typical damage common when the conventional drying process is employed. 




    With this method in place, oil palm biomass, oil palm trunks in particular, which used to be categorized as agricultural waste and cannot be left on the field will be converted into novel commercial returns for oil palm agriculturists because instead of being cleared out using chemical injection or chopping, old and unproductive oil palm trees can be transitioned further into the processing process. 

   “While the global statistic of oil palm waste trunk is at 100 million cubic meters/year potentially translating into over 777,000 million THB worth of successfully processed lumber, Thailand, stacking an astounding 4 million cubic meters/year is looking at 31,000 million THB each year. Both wood processing entrepreneurs and oil palm farmers can venture into a new territory of a sustainable, eco-friendly and holistic cycle of income,” said Associate Prof. Dr. Nirundorn.

   Currently, this innovation has been registered for a petty patent in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and the university is now disseminating this new dataset to the local communities.

For more information, please visit to contact the Center of Excellence in Wood and Biomaterials, School of Engineering, Walailak University


Photo by Cholthicha Limpiti

Article by Nootchanat Sukkaew