An Optimal Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical Densification (THM) Process for Densifying Balsam Fir Wood

Ling Li, Meng Gong, Naxin Yuan, Dagang Li


To better utilize low-density softwood, a thermo-hydro-mechanical densification process performed in an open system was studied to enable the manufacture of densified wood with a hard surface, strong bonding, and good dimensional stability. This study was aimed at optimizing three densification parameters, i.e., compression ratio (CR), temperature, and time, for balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.). The Brinell surface hardness, bond strength, and thickness recovery ratio of densified fir were examined. It was found that the optimal densification parameters were a CR of 60%, a temperature of 230 ºC, and a time of 20 minutes. The surface hardness and bond strength of optimized densified fir were about 30 and 8 MPa, respectively. The thickness recovery ratio of the densified fir after a 2-hour cold water soaking and another 2-hour boiling treatment was about 10%. Because the densified fir in this study was used for indoor applications only, its thickness recovery ratio could be minimal under conditions of use.


Bond strength; Optimal thermo-hydro-mechanical densification; Thickness recovery; Softwood; Surface hardness

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