Durability of oak timber bridges – Impact of inherent wood resistance and environmental conditions

Brischke, Christian; Behnen, Christoph J.; Lenz, Marie-Therese; Brandt, Karin GND; Melcher, Eckhard GND

Premature failure of timber construction can have dramatic consequences, at worst threat to human life or physical condition. Timber components might perform unexpectedly poor due to insufficient protection by misuse, design, low work execution level, or due to low resistance of the material in use. However, information about the material resistance of prematurely failed structures is usually lacking. Therefore this study aimed on developing a method to display the relationship between damages occurring on structures in service and the resistance against wood-destroying fungi of the material used. Drilling cores taken from wooden structures were found to have the ability to serve as specimens in laboratory decay test when compared to standard specimens. Therefore, drilling cores were sampled from different components of six timber bridges in Hannover, Germany, made from English oak (Quercus robur L.). The cores were submitted to the white rot fungus Trametes versicolor and to soft rot fungi in terrestrial microcosms. The determined mass losses due to fungal decay were compared with the level of damage of the studied bridge components. The results indicated that the material-inherent resistance was responsible for damages rather than poor details of the construction. The methodological approach might be used to provide further knowledge about the relationship of timber in service and under ideal laboratory test conditions



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Brischke, Christian / Behnen, Christoph J. / Lenz, Marie-Therese / et al: Durability of oak timber bridges – Impact of inherent wood resistance and environmental conditions. 2012.


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