On November 14, the international forum for charcoal (BIAG Barbecue Industry Association Grill e.V.) held an event on the certification of charcoal and possibilities for molecular-based identification. Ulrich Bick, Gerald Koch and Sergej Kaschuro of the Thünen Institute of Wood Research shed light on the topic, which has gained increased public attention throughout the barbecue season. Thanks to high-resolution microscopic image analysis, it is possible to differentiate between domestic and tropic wood parts in charcoal and designate them accordingly to their specific botany.
Charcoal and coal briquettes are currently not subject to the European Timer Regulation (EUTR), but leading producer and trader companies were in favor of establishing a certification system, a chain of custody, which could provide information on the wood supply.
Additionally, according to the latest IAWA Newsletter, researchers of the Thünen Institute for Wood Research found that the declaration on the charcoal bag often does not coincide with its contents. After checking the contents of some bags, it was concluded that in the majority of the cases considerable numbers of tropical timbers were in the bags. While examining numerous pieces of charcoal, they observed some astonishing anatomical details not attributable to any of the known tissues making part of the complex structure of wood. The image of the tangential section was taken with a “3D-reflected-light microscope”, an excellent means of studying the surfaces of pieces of charcoal. A number of circular to oval openings were observed. The intent in publishing these images in the IAWA Newsletter is to ask whether you have any suggestions as regards the nature of these structures. Please send your ideas to Dr. Hans-Georg Richter of the Thünen-Institute of Wood Research, Hamburg.
IAWA Newsletter November 2017