NC State
BioResources
Segerholm, B. K., Ibach, R. E., and Westin, M. (2012). "Moisture sorption, biological durability, and mechanical performance of WPC containing modified wood and polylactates," BioRes. 7(4), 4575-4585.

Abstract

Biological durability is an important feature for wood-plastic composites (WPC) intended for outdoor applications. One route to achieving WPC products with increased biological durability is to use wood preservative agents in the formulation of the WPC. Another option could be to use a chemically modified wood component that already exhibits increased resistance to biological degradation. There is also a need to use biobased thermoplastics made from renewable resources, which would decrease the dependency on petrochemically-produced thermoplastics in the future. The objective of this study was to examine moisture sorption properties, biological durability, and mechanical performance of injection-molded WPC samples based on acetylated or thermally modified wood components and a polylactate matrix. The biological durability was evaluated in a terrestrial microcosm (TMC) test according to ENV 807, followed by mechanical evaluation in a center point bending test. The moisture sorption properties were investigated via both water soaking and exposure in a high-humidity climate. Low or negligible mass losses were observed in the TMC test for all WPC samples. However, the mechanical evaluation after exposure in the TMC test showed 35-40% losses in both strength and stiffness for the WPC containing an unmodified wood component.
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