KMG-Bernuth’s key products for the industrial wood treating market – Pentachlorophenol and Creosote – are commonly used in high-volume applications where preserving wood economically is a priority.
Pentachlorophenol, known as “Penta” for short, is used primarily to treat wooden utility poles. Penta helps to protect utility poles from insect damage and weather decay.
Our Creosote product, which is a distillate of coal tar, is used to extend the useful life of wood, primarily railroad crossties. Other industrial uses for Creosote include treating bridge timbers and marine pilings.
The United States maintains, by a wide margin, the largest network of freight-based rail lines in the world. According to the Association of American Railroads, there are more than 233,000 miles of railroad tracks in the U.S. Those tracks contain as many as 800 million railroad crossties, of which approximately 90% are traditional wooden ties. Even after more than 150 years, creosote remains essentially the only product used to treat wooden ties. Creosote is highly valued both for its efficacy – creosote-treated ties can last about 30-35 years – and its cost-effectiveness. After creosote-treated ties are removed from service, these ties can be recycled and used as a renewable resource.
According to industry statistics, there are more than 40 million wooden utility poles in the U.S. alone. Each year, electric power and telecommunications utilities purchase approximately two million wooden utility poles in the United States. Approximately 45% of these poles are treated with Pentachlorophenol, a highly effective wood preservative which protects the pole from insect damage and weather decay. As the sole manufacturer of Penta in North America, we’re proud to say that Penta-treated poles have a 60-plus year track record of environmental safety.
Unlike poles treated with a competing product, known as CCA (chromated copper arsenate), Penta-treated poles are climbable by linemen. This characteristic is particularly advantageous anywhere bucket trucks (“cherry-pickers”) are impractical or unavailable for the utility linemen who service and repair transmission and telephone lines. When removed from service, Penta-treated poles can be reused and recycled or burned for energy in combustion units and industrial boilers.
While creosote is most widely used to treat wooden railroad crossties, creosote is also an effective wood treatment for other industrial wood applications, such as poles, bridge timbers and marine pilings. Creosote-treated wood is quite strong and less likely to warp than dimensional timbers, making it a smart and cost-effective choice for wooden bridges. In addition, creosote-treated wood is suitable for aquatic and marine environments, an obvious benefit for marine pilings.