Doctor of Philosophy in Forestry (PhD)
Modeling Molecular Simulation Through Wood Cell Wall
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The origin of sorption hysteresis in the wood-water system is still under debate. In this study, cell walls are considered as micro-mesoporous materials and capillary condensation in the entire hygroscopic region is proposed as an alternative sorption mechanism. Initially, the pore connectivity was investigated by observing five experimentally generated hysteresis patterns at 25 and 40oC. Consistent patterns were found for the species-temperature combinations. Further, the satisfactory congruency and wiping-out properties indicate the dominance of independent cell wall pores. After this experimental phase, the geometric interpretations derived from the Preisach model, the mathematical form of the independent domain model, was used tο explain the observed hysteresis patterns. Additionally, a modification to the aforementioned model was suggested that involves a numerical implementation, which avoids the use of unknown parameters. The low prediction errors and well-maintained wiping-out property support the suitability of our approach. In the next phase, grand canonical Monte Carlo (GCMC) technique was applied in a simplified wood-water system to simulate sorption isotherms and hysteresis at 25 and 40°C. In the simulation system, wood is represented by a cell wall model that is composed of solid substances and evenly distributed independent cylindrical nanopores with sizes in the range of 0.6 – 2.2nm. Two types of pore-wall compositions regarding polysaccharides and lignin have been considered. The hydroxyl groups are modeled as negative energy pits attached to walls whereas water is represented by the SPC/E model. Results demonstrated that hysteresis can be well explained by the existence of metastable states associated with capillary condensation and evaporation of water in cell wall pores. The alternative sorption mechanism driven by capillary condensation is also strongly supported by the simulation. In the last phase, the cell wall pore size distributions in the hygroscopic range were explored for the three species from a “trial and error” calculation approach. This approach was indirectly examined by comparing derived volumetric strain of cell walls and the density of adsorbed water in the hygroscopic range with literature data. The qualitative agreement indicates the soundness of assumptions made on the cell wall swelling process and proposed calculation procedures.
The objective of this study was firstly to investigate and understand sorption properties of earlywood, latewood, annual rings and gross wood. Secondly, to develop a heterogeneous sorption model for earlywood, latewood and annual rings by taking into consideration unified complex interactions of anatomy, chemical composition and thermodynamic parameters. Thirdly, to upscale the annual ring level model to gross wood by applying artificial neural networks (ANNs) modeling tools using dimensionally reduced inputs through dimensional analysis and genetic algorithms. Four novel physical models, namely, dynamical two-level systems (TLS) model of annual rings, sorption kinetics, sorption isotherms and TLS model of physical properties and chemical composition were derived and successfully validated using experimental data of Douglas-fir. The annual ring’s TLS model was capable to generate novel physical quantities, namely, golden ring volume (GRV) and golden ring cube (GRC) to which the sorption properties are very sensitive, according to the validation tests. A new heterogeneity test criterion (HTC) was also derived. Validations of the TLS sorption models revealed new evidence showing a transient nature of sorption hysteresis in which boundary sorption isotherms asymptotically converged to a single isotherm at large time limit. A novel method for the computation of internal surface area of wood was also validated using the TLS model of sorption isotherms. The fibre saturation point prediction of the model was also found to agree well with earlier reports. The TLS model of physical properties and chemical composition was able to reveal the self-organization in Douglas-fir that gives rise to allometric scaling. The TLS modeling revealed existence of self-organizing criticality (SOC) in Douglas-fir and demonstrated mechanisms by which it is generated.Ten categories of unified ANNs Douglas-fir sorption models that predict equilibrium moisture content, diffusion and surface emission coefficients were successfully developed and validated. The network models predict sorption properties of Douglas-fir using thermodynamic variables and parameters generated by the four TLS models from chemical composition and physical properties of annual rings. The findings of this study contribute to the creation of a decision support system that would allow predicting wood properties and processing characteristics based on chemical and structural attributes.
No abstract available.
Thermal modification is a controlled degradation process of wood cell wall material at high temperatures that results in improving some of its properties. This process, albeit quite developed in Europe, is still in its infancy in Canada. So, use of such method might add value to local wood species and thus, allow the development of new products and markets. Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is a locally abundant species used mostly in construction, so the development of other uses could bring extra revenues to the industry. This research focuses on exploring thermal treatment levels and their effect on some material properties in order to achieve the optimum combination for hemlock. In this regard, kiln-dried western hemlock boards with two cuts (flatsawn and quartersawn) were subjected to the Thermowood® process at three different maximum treatment temperatures (170, 212, and 230°C) for 2hrs. Samples were cut from both the treated and untreated boards for property evaluation tests including basic density, equilibrium moisture content, water absorption, anti-swelling efficiency, color change, Janka hardness, and dynamic modulus of elasticity. Data analysis revealed that there was no significant difference between the two cuts and temperature was the only factor that affected the wood properties. Basic density, equilibrium moisture content, and water absorption were lower at higher treatment temperatures, while dimensional stability considerably increased. The impact of higher treatment temperatures on hardness and stiffness of samples was hardly noticeable, but it visually influenced the color of samples and made them darker. Within the scope and limitations of this study, the optimum treatment temperature, namely, the one that enables improved dimensional stability and provided a darker color without significantly affecting the wood strength suggested establishing at 212°C. Further research is required to fully determine the performance of thermally modified wood for interior and exterior applications.
Western hemlock is a dominant coastal species in British Columbia, Canada. This species is commonly marketed with amabilis fir as Pacific Coast Hemlock or hem-fir. Hem-fir is difficult to dry, mostly because of the existence of wetwood and large initial moisture content variation. The dried lumber will likely end up with a large final moisture content difference resulting in increased drying defects and decreased lumber quality and factory productivity. In this study, application of green chain moisture-based sorting coupled with drying schedule modifications were considered as ways to improve final moisture content variation within and between kiln dried hem-fir lumber. There were two research phases. The first (without sorting), aimed to develop a modified drying schedule whereas in the second, the developed schedule was used along with a standard industrial schedule. Additionally, there was a green moisture content pre-sorting component in the second phase where freshly cut specimens were sorted based on their initial moisture content into three groups, i.e., mixed, low, and high moisture. To assess the specimen kiln dried quality, final moisture content variation, moisture content gradient, drying rate, warp, surface and internal checks, shrinkage, and casehardening were assessed. Data analysis revealed that there was no significant difference between the drying runs in terms of final moisture content variation, except in the high initial moisture content group. High initial moisture content sorting helped to reduce the final moisture content variation. The modified schedule, when there was a high initial moisture content sorting, also improved the uniformity of final moisture content in comparison to the industrial schedule. Moreover, neither the moisture sorting nor the drying schedule did affect the final moisture content variation for the low and mixed initial moisture content groups. Therefore, the green moisture-based pre-sorting was statistically effective just in the sorted group with high initial moisture content and where the modified schedule was used.
This study aimed to investigate the changes of internal moisture content distributions of high-value hem-fir timbers after kiln drying while exposed to two different local outdoors seasonal conditions for a period of time of few weeks.Hem-fir is the most abundant species in coastal British Columbia, Canada, and high-quality thick hem-fir timbers used as construction material are one of the most important, and profitable products due to international market demand especially in Japan. Presently more-and-more of those houses are pre-fabricated and dimensional stability is paramount. Internal moisture profiles after kiln drying and their behaviour as a function of weather exposure in storage can result in dimensionally unstable products and consequently compromise quality. Conventional kiln drying of thick timbers is relatively difficult and requires long drying time to reduce final moisture content variation. Fast drying will result in steep moisture content gradients which may result in undesirable dimensional changes when products are used in normal service conditions. Thus, it is important to understand moisture behavior after drying and how that is affected by the environment.In this study, 90 x 90 mm in cross-section hem-fir timbers were dried to three different target moisture contents. Thereafter, stickered packages were stored under two diverse seasonal coastal environments thus emulating outdoor timber storage in a local sawmill. Moisture contents at 25 mm and 45 mm depths were continuously monitored for a period of three weeks.The results showed that moisture movement was observed between at 25 mm and at 45 mm depths regardless seasonal conditions while no significant net moisture content reduction took place during the cold-wet season after kiln drying. Also, regardless seasonal condition or target moisture content, moisture movement between at 25 mm and at 45 mm depths slowed down when differential moisture content between them was below 2.5%. In particular, at high target moisture content of 22%, moisture content values both at 25 mm and at 45 mm depths remained constant at moisture content difference value of 2.5% after two weeks regardless seasonal conditions, and no further drying or no further moisture content equalization were observed after that point.
The objective of the study was to reveal the effect of RF heating at different power densities and time combinations as pre-conventional kiln treatment on the drying characteristics and quality of sub-alpine fir lumber. As a consequence of this objective, the study hypothesis was formulated as: “if RF heating improves the permeability of sub-alpine fir, then upon kiln drying, final moisture content variability between and within lumbers as well as drying defects will decrease”. In this research, thirteen groups of one meter long, 51 x 102 mm sub-alpine fir lumbers were RF heated with two power densities (27 and 72 kW/m³) and eight time combinations (15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 105 and 120 minutes), but all to the same final temperature level (100°C) before kiln drying in a two-phase experimental design. Two groups (one for each phase) served as controls. Permeability tests were also performed in the second phase of the study. The effect of RF heating on permeability, drying rates, moisture content gradient, final moisture content variability between pieces and drying defects was evaluated and analyzed. Treatment effect on total energy consumption (sum of RF heating and kiln drying energies) was also assessed to ascertain the feasibility of applying this technology in industrial setting. Data analysis revealed in phase 1 that, not all treatments reduced moisture content variability within and between specimens and improved drying rates above and below fiber saturation point, compared to the control. Defect appearance also did not significantly reduce, and all except two treatments increased total energy consumption. In phase 2 however, permeability improved in all except one treatment but was found not to be statistically significant. Treatments also improved moisture gradient as well as drying rates above and below fiber saturation point but the moisture gradient was found not to be statistically significant. Compared to the control, not all treatments reduced moisture content variability between wood samples. Defects did not significantly improve between treatments and control, and total energy consumption was relatively higher in treatments. Results obtained within the limitations of this study led to the rejection of the hypothesis.