Mechanistic study of microstructural deformation and stress in steam-exploded softwood
Journal article, 2017
Steam explosion pretreatment results in the formation of microcracks in the cell walls of wood. In the present study, steam explosion experiments were performed and structural changes in Norway spruce were identified using scanning electron microscopy. The cellular structure of the softwood spruce was simulated using the finite element method, and the effects of pressure generated during the steam explosion pretreatment on the deformation of the cells were investigated. The simulated model included earlywood, latewood, and ray cells. The effects of bordered and cross-field pits on the stresses in the cell wall were studied as well. Many similarities were observed between the microcracks in the steam-exploded wood and the high-stress regions predicted by the model. The experimental and simulation results showed that the radial cell walls in the earlywood cells experienced major deformation. The presence of the pits created stress localization and facilitated the formation of microcracks in the cell walls.