Influence of Processing Parameters on Fibre Properties during Twin-Screw Extrusion of Poplar Wood Chips

Dittrich, Christian; Pecenka, Ralf; Selge, Benjamin; Ammon, Christian; Kruggel-Emden, Harald

FG Mechanische Verfahrenstechnik und Aufbereitung

For sustainable agriculture, the contentious input of peat in growing media needs to be replaced by a substitute with the best possible water-holding capacity (WHC). Wood from fast growing poplar trees, cultivated in short rotation coppices (SRC), is a suitable alternative if it is processed correctly in a twin-screw extruder. The processing parameters, such as the aperture setting of the extruder, moisture content, and specific energy demand (SED), during twin-screw extrusion, as well as their influence on fibre properties such as WHC and particle size distribution, are investigated. SRC-poplar wood chips from clone Max3 are the raw material used for this research. As a result, the best volume-based WHC (75%) at −1 kPa suction tension was achieved for dry extruded wood chip fibre at an aperture setting of 15 mm and an SED of 340 kWh*t−1. The smallest SED of 140 kWh*t−1 was measured at apertures of 35 mm and 40 mm, which resulted in a volume-based WHC of approximately 30% and a dry matter mass flow during processing of 0.289 t*h−1 (40 mm). The particle size distribution of semi-dry wood chips has the highest fine fraction as well as the smallest coarse fraction. Conclusively, poplar wood can be processed fresh and dry into fibre at an acceptable SED, which results in an acceptable WHC.