Effect of microcrystalline cellulose, species, and particle size on mechanical and physical properties of particleboard
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Particleboards made from both sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and southern pine (Pinus spp.) were made at a small and large particle size and at 0 and 10% microcrystalline cellulose loading. Modulus of rupture, modulus of elasticity, work to maximum force, and thickness swell (after 2 and 24 h) were measured for all treatment combinations. An increase in particle size had a positive influence on mechanical properties but also allowed for more thickness swell, particularly for the southern pine furnish. Conversely, adding cellulose actually decreased mechanical properties, increased thickness swell, and decreased springback. In the field, the ability to manipulate particle size to control particleboard mechanical properties is perhaps more cost-effective and practical than cellulose addition. Replacing southern pine with sweetgum was viable with equal or better mechanical and physical properties. This suggests that the hardwood species could be a feasible substitute for pine as the demand for woody resources in the southern US continues to grow.