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Water vapor adsorption and volumetric swelling of melt-impregnated wood–polymer composites

Authors

  • Yaolin Zhang,

    1. Forintek Canada Corporation, 319 rue Franquet, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada G1P 4R4
    2. Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 44555, 28 Dineen Drive, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 6C2
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  • S. Y. Zhang,

    Corresponding author
    1. Forintek Canada Corporation, 319 rue Franquet, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada G1P 4R4
    2. Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 44555, 28 Dineen Drive, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 6C2
    • Forintek Canada Corporation, 319 rue Franquet, Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada G1P 4R4
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  • Ying Hei Chui

    1. Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 44555, 28 Dineen Drive, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3B 6C2
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Abstract

Wood–plastic composites were prepared through impregnation of solid wood with polyethylene. A resolution IV screening design of 16 runs for seven factors at two levels was adopted. The seven factors tested were ratio of maleated polyethylene in formulations, ratio of polyethylene of different molecular weights, four process factors (vacuum, pressure, time, and temperature), and wood species (red maple and aspen). Moisture adsorption content and volumetric changes as a function of time were investigated. This study also examined the effects of impregnation parameters and impregnants on water vapor adsorption and dimensional stability. The process parameters (pressure and temperature), polymer impregnants (polyethylene of different molecular weights), and wood species contributed significantly to the equilibrium moisture content (EMC), whereas the moisture adsorption rate was mainly affected by the polymer impregnants (polyethylene of different molecular weights). The EMC was inversely proportional to polymer retention. However, none of the variables significantly contributed to volumetric swelling; the volumetric swelling rate was mainly affected by wood species, the molecular weight of the polyethylene, and impregnation vacuum. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 102: 2668–2676, 2006

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