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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 4

I Management Of Native Forests

II Plantations-high Productivity Resources

III Protecting The Resource

IV Harvesting The Resource

V Solid Wood And Its Processing

VI Minor Forest Products

VII Reconstituted Wood Products

VIII Pulp And Paper

IX Export Woodchips

X Future Directions

XI Acknowledgements



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Charcoal and wood distillation products (continued)

The use of charcoal as a gas producer fuel for small electricity generators and refrigerating plants was fairly common in some of the more remote areas of Australia in the 1920s, but its most important application was to come later, when gas producers were used extensively in the Second World War on motor vehicles because of the shortage of petroleum products. There had been some experience with this technology in the First World War for the same reason but in the Second World War production of charcoal for gas producers reached 250 000 tonnes per year. High wood density was an important quality factor and species such as jarrah, river red gum, spotted gum, ironbarks and casuarinas performed well. With the resumption of petroleum supplies after the War interest in producer gas virtually disappeared.

Apart from eucalyptus oil, mentioned earlier, other forest-based natural products which have been processed industrially for pharmaceutical use are the leaf oil from various Melaleuca species, alkaloids from corkwood (Duboisia) species and rutin from the red stringybark (E. macrorhyncha), Youman's stringybark (E. youmanii) and, in small amounts, from alpine ash.

The Duboisia alkaloid industry was started in the Second World War to provide a local source of atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine, using Duboisia leaf collected in Queensland and NSW. Originally processing was done in Australia but for many years now the leaf has been exported to Europe and Japan. It is collected both from natural forests and plantations of a high yielding hybrid.[75] Rutin, a glycoside used in the treatment of some blood vessel disorders, is extracted from the leaves of the above-mentioned eucalypts, which grow in southern NSW, and the crude extract exported to Europe.[76] Production started in the 1950s but has fallen off in recent years.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 227, Online Edition 2000
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