Understanding resin distribution during modification of wood

Exploring the distribution of resin on multiple length scales to enable the enhancement of wood’s properties.

Start date
1 October 2020
3.5 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey
Funding information

3.5 years of stipend at £20,000 per annum and all fees paid.


Wood modification uses a range of processes to alter wood’s 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
MiNMaT (Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies)

You will spend most of the programme time with the sponsor who are based at Barry, near Cardiff South Wales.

Eligibility criteria

This project requires a First, Upper Second, or merit at Masters in a physical sciences subject.

UK or EU students only. Please note we are not funded for international students.

IELTS: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with at least 7.0 in the writing component and at least 6.0 in the other components.

How to apply

Please contact the Centre Manager, Noelle Hartley, in the first instance to lodge an expression of interest in the project.

The Centre does not accept direct applications – it is important to contact the Centre Manager to discuss your interest at the earliest opportunity.

This project is part of the EPSRC CDT in MiNMaT.

References are taken up at interview stage.

University reserves the right to close the advert if a suitable candidate is found.

Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies (MiNMaT)

Application deadline

Contact details

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

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