Resistance of Flat-Pressed Wood-Plastic Composites to Fungal Decay: Effects of Wood Flour Content, Density, and Manufacturing Technology
Keywords:Wood-plastic composites, WPC panel, flat-pressing technology, fungal decay, mass loss, wood-degrading basidiomycetes, density, wood flour content
AbstractUse of wood-based materials in exterior application is inherently at risk of degradation caused by fungal decay. This risk also holds for wood-plastic composites (WPCs), whether they are extruded into rod-shaped elements or flat-pressed to large-dimensioned panels. In this study, to show the potential of WPC panels in exterior applications, fungal decay was studied by investigating mass loss in an agar-block test using Gloeophyllum trabeum (Gt), Coniophora puteana (Cp), and Pleurotus ostreatus (Po) as test fungi. Characterization of WPC panel durability was performed in comparison with solid wood samples by calculating the decay susceptibility index (DSI). Moreover, durability of WPC panels from laboratory (single-daylight press) and industrial (continuous double-belt press) manufacturing were compared with commercial extruded WPC decking planks. Experiments showed that the wood particles in flat-pressed panels were well protected against fungal decay by the polymeric matrix. The fungal-induced mass loss depended on panel density and wood flour content. Using DSI as an evaluation tool, WPC panels were found to be more durable than wood samples used as reference materials (DSI < 100).
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