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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342729

Research Project: Evaluation of the Chemical and Physical Properties of Low-Value Agricultural Crops and Products to Enhance Their Use and Value

Location: Functional Foods Research

Title: Wood-plastic composites utilizing wood flours derived from fast- growing trees common to the midwest

Author
item Tisserat, Brent
item Reifschneider, Louis - Illinois State University
item Gravatt, Alan - Hedge Apple Biotech
item Peterson, Steven - Steve

Submitted to: BioResources
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/26/2017
Publication Date: 9/12/2017
Citation: Tisserat, B., Reifschneider, L., Gravatt, A., Peterson, S.C. 2017. Wood-plastic composites utilizing wood flours derived from fast-growing trees common to the midwest. BioResources. 12(4):7898-7916.

Interpretive Summary: Wood-plastic composites (WPC) are engineered lumber that is used both outdoors (e.g. fencing and decking) and for interior building applications. The wood portion employed in WPC is derived from sawdust and scraps generated from lumber yards. However, the cost of wood scraps and sawdust is becoming expensive and limiting. There is a great need to identify usable lower cost lignocellulosic materials that can be compounded with thermoplastic resins to produce novel WPCs. This study addresses this issue by employing under-utilized hardwood trees common to the Midwest as the wood source. Wood flour derived from fast-growing Midwest trees (Osage orange, Black Locust and Red Mulberry) were evaluated as a source of fiber reinforcements in WPC. These materials were selected because of their low cost and abundance. The mechanical properties of composites were compared to WPC employing pine wood which is the industries standard wood to evaluate their usability. This work confirms that these Midwest trees could be employed to manufacture commercial WPCs.

Technical Abstract: There are several non- or under-utilized hardwood trees common to the Midwestern states. Wood flour (WF) derived from fast-growing Midwest trees (Osage orange, Black Locust and Red Mulberry) were evaluated as a source of bio-based fiber reinforcements. Wood plastic composites (WPC) of high density polyethylene (HDPE), 25% by weight of WF, and either 0% or 5% by weight of maleated polyethylene (MAPE) were produced by twin screw compounding and injection molding. Specimen bars were evaluated for their mechanical and flexural properties. Composite blends employing the coupling agent MAPE were superior to composites without MAPE or neat HDPE in terms of their mechanical and flexural properties. Osage orange WPC composed of juvenile WF had mechanical and flexural properties that were the same WPC composed of mature WF. WPC composed of WF from Midwest trees was comparable with WPC composed of Pine WF in terms of their mechanical and flexural properties. Soaking of bars of the various WPC blends in distilled water for 28 days altered weights, mechanical properties and color.