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Ability of heating to enhance water uptake in wood/plastic composites

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Purpose ‐ Wetting wood plastic composites (WPCs) prior to testing can be challenging because of the inherent water repellency of the plastic. The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of heating and wetting to accelerate moisture uptake on two WPCs. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Full size samples of the two WPCs were immersed in water at various temperatures or heated in an autoclave. Samples were removed periodically and dissected to determine the moisture profile by oven drying and weighing. Findings ‐ Moisture uptake is accelerated by heating, but the effect is mainly confined to the outer 5?mm of the samples. Moisture levels deeper in the samples are largely unaffected. Research limitations/implications ‐ Moisture uptake can be enhanced by heating, but the inability to increase moisture levels deeper in the wood suggests that tests assessing the role of moisture on WPC properties should use thinner specimens to ensure that moisture is well distributed in the materials. Practical implications ‐ The results suggest the need for a re-evaluation of test methodologies for WPCs where moisture uptake is an integral part of the procedures to more closely align the methods to the WPC/moisture behaviour. Originality/value ‐ This paper will help researchers develop better methods for assessing the role of moisture in WPC behaviour.
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Keywords: Composite materials; Durability; Heating; Moisture; Plastics; Wood

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 25, 2010

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