Dielectric heating as an alternative phytosanitary treatment to methyl bromide for quarantine and pre-shipment of wood in international trad

Project: Research project

Project Details


NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The use of methyl bromide (MeBr) fumigation for quarantine and pre-shipment purposes (QPS) continues to rise with the expansion of world trade and increasing globalization. The U.S. wood products industry will continue to request critical use exemptions for MeBr of solid wood packaging materials and other wood commodities as long as acceptable alternative treatments are unavailable, ineffective, or cost prohibitive. MeBr use in the U.S. will not decline considerably until we address QPS uses. Prior research by this team has led to formal submission and tentative approval of dielectric heating as the first alternative to methyl bromide fumigation under International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM-15) by the International Plant Protection Convention, Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM). ISPM-15 stipulates that wood used to ship products between countries must be debarked, heat treated to 56C at the core for 30 minutes or fumigated with MeBr, and stamped or branded with a mark of compliance. ISPM-15 affects all wood packaging material and its purpose is to prevent the international transport and spread of pests that could negatively affect plants and ecosystems in the introduced region. The goal of this project is to facilitate final approval of dielectric heating technology by the CPM for treating SWPM and associated wood products, which will also provide useful data that can be modified and adopted for other CUN's related to food and food packaging. This will be done through modeling internal wood temperatures as a function of surface temperature measured using infrared technology using bulk treatment of wood under different conditions to simulate operational conditions. This information will be used to develop a recommended approach for implementing dielectric heating in commercial settings. A cost/benefit economic analysis will be performed comparing dielectric heating to methyl bromide and conventional kiln treatment to provide the necessary evidence to the industry that dielectric is cost effective. Significant outreach/extension activities are planned to educate and promote this technology to the industry. This project will thus develop and deliver the knowledge base necessary to promote adoption of this technology by the wood packaging industry, leading to a dramatic reduction in the use MeBr for phytosanitary treatment for quarantine pre-shipment purposes.

Effective start/end date9/1/122/28/15


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $477,265.00
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture: $477,265.00


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