Understanding resin distribution during modification of wood

This project will seek to improve the durability of sustainable wood products through effective resin modification, using advanced imaging and characterisation techniques to ensure the resin is delivered uniformly throughout the wood.  

Start date

1 October 2019


4 years

Application deadline

Funding source

EPSRC Funded with residency criteria – please note we cannot accept applications to this project from international students as we are insufficiently funded at this point.

Funding information

EPSRC funded – a living allowance / stipend of £19,900 will be paid. All fees are met by this funding stream – the student will have no fee liability. See CDT MiNMaT for more information on the programme

Supervised by


Please note that this is an EngD project – not a PhD. You will be physically based at the sponsor site with Lignia Wood in Cardiff, Wales.

Wood modification uses a range of processes to alter wood 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.

Related links

Centre for Doctoral Training in MiNMaT

Eligibility criteria

This project requires a First, a 2:1, or a merit at Masters in a physical sciences subject.

For preference, the sponsor Lignia is looking for a physicist, a background in materials or civil engineering or a chemistry interest.

UK/EU students only – we are not funded for international students.

IELTS requirements: 6.5 or above.

How to apply

Applications for this studentship are now closed.

Contact details

Noelle Hartley
05 AB 03
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 683467
E-mail: N.Hartley@surrey.ac.uk

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