Influence of Birch False Heartwood on the Physical and Mechanical Properties of Wood-plastic Composites

Heikko Kallakas, Gbenga S. Ayansola, Tanel Tumanov, Dmitri Goljandin, Triinu Poltimäe, Andres Krumme, Jaan Kers


The influence of birch false heartwood was investigated relative to the physical and mechanical properties of wood-plastic composites. Birch wood (sapwood and false heartwood) particles were modified with 5 wt% NaOH (by wood content) and 5 wt% 3-aminopropyl-triethoxysilane (by wood content) before being compounded with polypropylene in a co-rotating twin-screw extruder. The compounded composites were then injection moulded into standard test samples. The resulting composites were grouped into four categories: birch sapwood, modified birch sapwood, false heartwood, and modified false heartwood. Neat polypropylene samples were produced as a reference. The samples were tested for their tensile and flexural properties, water absorption, thickness swelling, and ultraviolet aging. The compositions of the composites were analysed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The results showed that the tensile strength of all of the samples decreased after water absorption. Water absorption decreased the impact strength of all of the composites. Ultraviolet radiation degraded the neat polypropylene and lowered the mechanical properties of all of the composites. Surface chalking was observed in all of the wood-plastic composites exposed to ultraviolet aging, with colours ranging from brown and brownish black to white.


Birch; False heartwood; Wood-plastic composite; Polypropylene; Mechanical properties; Water absorption; UV radiation

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