Micromechanics of softwoods in the transverse plane : effects on cell and annual ring scales

Sammanfattning: Transverse mechanical properties of wood are important in many practial applications and an interesting scientific subject. A very low transverse shear modulus has been identified in spruce, which causes large strain concentrations in wood structures. In this thesis, experimental characterization of local density variations as well as local strain fields are carried out using the SilviScan apparatus and digital speckle photography, respectively. This is combined with micromechanical modeling based on hexagonal wood cells in combination with finite element analysis. Problems addressed include the moduli in the transverse plane, including variations at the scale of individual annual rings. The relative importance of cell wall bending and stretching deformation mechanisms is analysed as a function of wood cell geometry, relative density and direction of loading (radial, tangential and shear). Transverse anisotropy is also analyzed, including its dependency of earlywood and latewood characteristics. The wood cell shape angle variation and density effects are sufficient to explain transverse anisotropy in softwoods (no ray effects), and the influence of earlywood/latewood ratio is explained. As a practical test method for shear modulus measurements, an off-axis compression test with full-field strain determination is proposed. The advantage is a simple fixture and large region of representative strain required for a heterogeneous material such as wood. As an alternative, the single cube apparatus (SCA) for shear tests is evaluated. The SCA is used to determine the shear strain distribution within the annual rings. Based on the density distribution of the shear test specimen and a micromechanics model, a finite element model is developed, and predictions are compared with the measured shear strains. The agreement between predicted and measured shear strains at the annual ring scale are remarkably good. It shows that the low GRT of spruce is due to the low earlywood density and the large cell wall bending deformation resulting from shear loading. Furthermore, it illustrates the need for improved understanding of annual ring scale effects. For example, fairly low transverse global loads will lead to lage local shear strains.