Laboratory of Paper Coating and Converting
Wood fiber composites prepared by adding thermosetting adhesives to wood fibers are proving to be of great value due to their potential to replace synthetic fiber reinforced plastics; thus, offering green, sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The demand for green composites is growing constantly due to their low environmental impact, recycling ability, low cost, and good thermal and acoustic insulation. However, there are challenges associated with wood fiber composites that make it difficult for them to compete with other alternatives such as synthetic fiber composites. One of the major challenges is their sensitivity to moisture, which affects their mechanical performance under humid conditions. Other concerns that need to be addressed are low impact strength and tensile strength along with the need of lower processing temperatures limiting matrix options.
The objective of this research is to explore and develop novel biotechnological concepts to improve performance of thermoformable wood fiber composites. The methods include using different enzyme technology and/or natural binders such as hemicellulose, lignin, and nanocellulose during composite manufacturing. The goal is to improve moisture resistance and strength properties of wood fiber composites to make them more suitable for various day-to-day applications. Strength properties and moisture sensitivity of the composites will be analyzed using 3-point bending tests and water absorption (Cobb) tests, respectively. Detailed analysis of interactions between the components and porosity of the composites will be studied using several characterization techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Mercury Porosimetry.