Wood modification uses a range of processes to alter wood’s properties. It is often used to improve properties of sustainable plantation softwoods. Resin modification is used to manufacture modified wood for external products such as decking, cladding, and yacht decks. Manufacture involves impregnation of wood with resin, drying the wood, then curing the resin in wood through application of heat and pressure.
Successful resin modification requires resin to be evenly distributed throughout the wood structure at macroscopic, microscopic and ultrastructural levels during all process steps, in order to produce modified product with consistent properties. Since process conditions in each manufacturing step are likely to re-distribute resin, understanding this is important. Resin distribution affects physical properties of the modified material and uncontrolled (I.e. variable) distribution can damage wood during processing. Understanding the location of the resin during and following each process step will be assessed using MRI techniques, microscopy and densitometry at a range of levels. Processing condition changes and their influence on resin distribution can then be evaluated. This includes differences in resin uptakes between earlywood and latewood growth rings and the influence this has on micromechanical properties of the wood which will be assessed by nano-indentation techniques.
Understanding distribution of water in the wood cell wall during resin cure (a condensation reaction) will help us understand and improve cell wall stabilisation. Resin cure generated water and wood bound water both affect the ability of resin to bulk the cell wall. A significant challenge lies in analysing wood/resin and water interactions during process steps, some of which take place at elevated temperatures and pressures. The level and permanence of wood cell wall bulking will be influenced by ingress of water and subsequent removal of water-soluble resin components by leaching. MRI techniques will be used to understand those regions of modified product most susceptible to water uptake and influence/effectiveness of sealants at preventing this determined.
This is a 3.5 year project, commencing in October 2020.
Entry requirements: First Class or an Upper Second in a Physical Science degree. IELTS: 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each band.
How to apply: Please contact the Centre Manager, Noelle Hartley ([email protected]), in the first instance to lodge an expression of interest in the project. The Centre does not accept direct applications – it is important to contact the Centre Manager to discuss your interest at the earliest opportunity.
This project is part of the EPSRC CDT in MiNMaT. References are taken up at interview stage. The University reserves the right to close the advert if a suitable candidate is found.
University fees will be covered for the duration of the course with a stipend of £20,000 per annum for UK/EU students.