Pyroligneous acid also called wood vinegar is an aqueous liquid produced from pyrolysis of lignocellulose waste and biomass. In general, the pyrolysis types are classified base on heating rate mainly either fast or slow pyrolysis. The characteristic and properties of wood vinegar are primarily influenced by the type of carbonaceous feedstocks as well as the production techniques. Wood vinegar is a complex mixture of polar and non-polar chemicals with various molecular weights and compositions. Its major constituent is water (80–90%). Some physical properties; such as pH, specific gravity, dissolved tar content are, respectively, within the range of 2–4, 1.005–1.016 g/mL, 0.23–0.89% wt, and color, odor and transparency have been reported. In addition, the degree of oBrix was ranged between 1.7 and 6.6. Besides water, the chemical compositions of wood vinegars consisted of acetic acid with the largest component (30.45–70.60 mg.mL−1). A high number of phenol derivatives have been found and those in higher concentrations were 4-propyl-2-methoxyphenol (5–11 mg.mL−1) followed by 2-methylphenol (2–4 mg.mL−1). Wood vinegar has been regarded as a natural product, which claimed to be capable in several fields of application. In agriculture, wood vinegar has been used in vegetable cropping in order to combat disease, pest control, improve growth and fruit quality, seed germination accelerator as well as herbicide. In pharmaceutical and medical applications, it is used for the preparation of detoxification pad while in veterinary and animal production, incorporation of the wood vinegar in feed could promote acidity in large intestine to inhibit growth of enteropathogenic microbes. In food processing, wood vinegar has a characteristic smoke flavor, and also exhibits microbial growth inhibition. In addition, several investigators reported that bio-oil and wood vinegar obtained from fast pyrolysis and carbonization showed a high potential on organic wood preservative. In summary, the wood vinegar prepared from the tropical wood and/or biomass waste is widely beneficial. The chapter attempts to provide essential knowledge relevant to physicochemical characteristics of wood vinegar and its applications.
Part of the book: Tropical Forests