Journal article Open Access
The function of altering weathering factors and degradation mechanisms are essential for understanding the weathering process of materials. The goal of this work was to develop a method for the acceleration of natural weathering and to investigate the molecular, microstructure and macrostructure degradation of wood caused by the process. Tests were performed in the whole month of July, which, according to previous research, is considered as the most severe for weathering of wood micro-sections. Sample appearance was evaluated by colour measurement. Scanning electron microscopy was used for evaluation of the structural integrity and changes in the microstructure of wood morphological components. Changes on the molecular level were assessed by means of FT-IR spectroscopy. Observation of the effects of weathering allowed a better understanding of the degradation process. Typical structural damage, such as cracks on bordered pits and cross-field pits, and, as a consequence, their erosion, revealed the sequence of the degradation process. It was confirmed that earlywood was more susceptible to damage than latewood. Even if the weathering test was conducted for a relatively short time (28 days) the ultra-thin wood samples changed noticeably. The progress of alteration was similar as usually noticed for wood surfaces, but occurred at shorter exposure times. The estimated acceleration factor was ×3, compare to the natural weathering kinetics of wood. The research methodology presented can be used for the determination of the weather dose-response models essential to estimate the future service life performance of timber elements.