It is a strange scientific itinerary to start from very simple molecules like hydrogen superoxides (H2O3, H2O4 synthesized in cold plasma of water and identified by Laser Raman Spectroscopy) to reach a complex macromolecular structure like wood.
With a scientific career in Physical Chemistry (chemical kinetics, IR and Raman spectroscopy, photochemistry...) it is not obvious to understand why solid wood became my main topic of interest. In fact as a teacher I was always interested to look at the professional "output" of the graduates in the industry. Besides, in the late 70's, appeared in our country a need to develop R/D in Wood Science and Technology. The wood industrial sector was mainly driven by foresters, with a strong expertise in forestry, silviculture, wood anatomy etc. and there was a lack of R/D experts for Wood and Furniture Industries. In 1978, with the support of the University and the Government, I start a new teaching /research structure which becomes ENSTIB in Epinal. The staff was multidisciplinary (Biology, Chemistry, Physical chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering) to fulfill the main industrial needs in Drying, Protection, Gluing, Finishing, Processing and Machining, Construction and Wood for Energy. In parallel with teaching we have developed a research, in this field. For me it was in two main topics, wood pyrolysis, where I have applied my background in Kinetics, and wood surface protection and treatment, where photochemistry and spectroscopy have helped us to understand the mechanisms of weathering.
I will focus my presentation on these two topics where the scientific advances where important and have brought progress in Industry. For pyrolysis/gasification, which was an important topic in 1980, with the peak in crude oil price, we have developed a circulated fluidized bed (CFB) system, starting from the laboratory scale to the pilot, in a chemical pulp mill. Unfortunately we where too far in advance to succeed...and twenty years later the wheel is reinvented in CFB gasification! In wood surface protection, thanks to our background in photochemistry, we have proposed three solutions to increase the durability of Wood/Finishes system: Photo-protection of underlying wood; adjust the Tg (glass or softening temperature) of the finishes; application of a soft undercoat playing the role of shock absorber between the dimensional variation of wood and the hardening of the topcoat.
Xavier Deglise is professor emeritus at the University Henri Poincaré, Nancy, France, where he pursued a teaching/research career that began in 1964, as Assistant-Professor. His education includes Diploma Engineer, Chemical Engineering, ENSIC (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Industries Chimiques of the National Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine), PhD in Physical Chemistry and DSc. in Physical Sciences (Photochemistry) at University of Nancy I. After his DSc, he spent two years (1968-1970) as post-doctoral research associate and faculty member in Physical Chemistry at University Laval, Quebec.
Back at the University of Nancy, he was then appointed Professor in Continuing education and in 1978 he founded and directed ENSTIB (National School of Wood Science and Timber Engineering) until 2000. In 1993 he gathered the faculty members involved in wood science, in a Laboratory which turned into an INRA joint research unit on wood material, in 2000. He directed the studies of some 30 graduate students and welcomed numerous post-doctoral research associates from the entire world, in particular from P.R. China (NFU) and Taiwan. He is author and co-author of more than 100 papers, 10 books and chapters, and has given around 150 conferences and communications in France and all over the world. He was board member of the National Council of the Universities (1980-97), of the French National Research Council (1983-90), and of the scientific Council of the Forestry Department of INRA (2002-2005). He was administrator of CTBA (Wood and Furniture Technical Center) (1982-1997).
He was involved in numerous European committees and organizations, dealing with Wood research and teaching. He is a member of the Forest Products Society, Honorary Professor at Transilvania University, Brasov, Romania and at University of Agriculture of Warsaw, Poland, Concurrent Professor at Nanjing Forestry University in P.R. of China. He was invited frequently in Taiwan by the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute.
He has been awarded "Knight of the National Order of Merit" in 1995 and "Commander of the Academic Palms" in 2004. He was elected a Fellow in IAWS in 1992, Vice-President in 2002 and became President in 2005.