UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF DRYING METHODS ON WOOD MECHANICAL PROPERTIES AT ULTRA AND CELLULAR LEVELS
Keywords:yellow birch wood, mechanical properties, drying method, nanoindentation(NI), dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA), yellow birch
Conventional kiln and vacuum drying are commonly used in industry to dry wood. In this research, an attempt was made to develop a better understanding of the effects of both drying methods on the mechanical properties of wood at the ultra-structure and cellular structure levels. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and nanoindentation (NI) were used together with standard static bending tests according to ASTM D143 to assess the respective effects of both drying methods on the performance of yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Brit.) wood, an important species in the Canadian wood industry. Measurements of equilibrium moisture content (EMC) at different relative humidity (RH) levels showed that vacuum drying consistently yielded higher EMC values. Vacuum-dried wood also exhibited superior MOE and MOR performance. Tests conducted by DMA demonstrated that the chemical structure of wood had undergone more changes during conventional kiln drying than during vacuum drying. The elastic modulus and hardness measured by the nanoindentation technique revealed that the impact of wood drying can be detected at the cell wall level as well. The results of this study showed that special attention should be paid to the effects of specific drying methods on the chemical structure of wood, as the chemical changes occurring in the kiln impact on the quality of the final products.
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