Creating a Stronger and More Water-Resistant Material Using Spruce Wood

Open Access
Callo, Anthony V
Area of Honors:
Chemical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Bratoljub Milosavljevic, Thesis Supervisor
  • Andrew Zydney, Honors Advisor
  • Spruce
  • Wood
  • Densification
  • Spruce Wood
Recently, a method that makes wood stronger than steel was reported (Song, et al, 2018). Several types of wood were tested, including both hard and soft woods. In this thesis, the reproducibility of the data reported was tested using spruce wood, a common tree type found in Pennsylvania. The lignin extraction was analyzed and found that extracting 0.42 g of lignin per 10 g wood yields best results. Closely following the published procedure resulted in a 34% increase in density (0.672 g/cm3), which is significantly less than reported (1.30 g/cm3). The modified temperature (130°C) and pressure (14.8 MPa) in our experiments resulted in a density of 1.16 g/cm3. In addition, a procedure intended to improve the water resistance was designed and tested. More specifically, the treated wood was impregnated with 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) monomer and subsequently irradiated with gamma rays. The modified and compacted wood obtained using the published procedure absorbed 58.5% of its weight in water while the plasticized sample obtained using our procedure absorbed 33.5% of its weight in water. The difference observed through these tests makes pursuing this research worthwhile.