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Title Fibre level modelling of free water behaviour during wood drying and wetting
Author Jarl-Gunnar Salin
Abstract Most drying simulation models describe the moisture migration in wood as a diffusion process, including free water flow at contents greater than the fibre saturation point. This means that wood is seen as a homogeneous material lacking internal structure. However, especially in softwood narrow sections, bordered pits, divide the free water phase into rather distinct units. It is thus quite clear that the flow of free water is governed by capillary forces and not by diffusion. A model has been developed that investigates how water filled units are emptied one by one in a drying process. Simulations with the model explain some experimentally seen features that cannot be obtained using solely diffusion type models. Water absorption by dried wood is generally assumed to be governed by capillary (surface tension) forces. An additional feature is that a considerable part of the bordered pits have been aspirated, i.e. closed, in the drying process and the number of possible flow paths is thus reduced. Thus the driving force for water flow is the capillary suction into the lumen. Modelling wood wetting by these principles also introduces some interesting specific features, such as a limit regarding the maximal achievable water saturation. In summary it is found that specific behaviour seen on a real macroscopic level originates from properties at the microscopic, fibre level. This clearly indicates that experience from fibre level models should be included in future drying and wetting simulation models. The work in this direction so far, has been promising.
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References
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Salin, JG. 2006a. Modelling of the behaviour of free water in sapwood during drying. Part I. A new 
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Salin, JG. 2006b. Modelling of the behaviour of free water in sapwood during drying. Part II. Some simulation results. Wood Material Science & Engineering 1: 45-51.
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Keywords Capillarity; free water; modelling; percolation; wood drying; wetting
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