Reactive extrusion of wood-thermoplastic composites
Abstract (Summary)The interest in Wood-thermoplastic composites (WPCs) has increased during the last decades. WPCs are commonly used as building material for decking and railing because of its low need of maintenance. Wood is a renewable resource of good mechanical properties and this make wood fibers interesting to use as reinforcement in a thermoplastic composite. A drawback with this type of composite is the poor long-term mechanical properties which limit its field of applications. The objective of this work was to optimize the process and understand structure-property relations of silane-crosslinked WPCs produced in a one-step reactive extrusion. The specific goal of crosslinking the composite was to improve the interfacial strength and stabilize the polymer matrix in order to improve these composites long-term mechanical properties.Silane-crosslinked WPC was produced by adding wood flour, polyethylene and a silane-peroxide solution to a compounding extruder. The composites were thereafter conditioned in different environments to promote the formation of silane-crosslinks. Parameters like wood flour moisture content, amount/composition of silane-peroxide solution and different general types of polyethylene was studied and related to the efficiency of the process.It was found that silane-technology applied to WPCs can be optimized in terms of processability and achieved property improvements. All crosslinked composites in this study have improved in strength, toughness and creep resistance but it was shown that the tested parameters have affect on both processing and properties. A gentle use of peroxides in the process was concluded to be positive for both processability and resulting property improvements. The unintentional crosslinking in the extrusion process is a drawback but was limited by lower peroxide concentrations. The use of low density polyethylene as polymer matrix lead to twice as high crosslinking rate compared to a high density polyethylene matrix. However, too excessive moisture uptake in the composites appears to lower the efficiency of crosslinking. Future studies should evaluate long-term load behavior more thoroughly and also investigate the conditioning step more carefully.
School:Luleå tekniska universitet
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2009