UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Sodium Iodide as a Contrast Agent for X-ray Micro-CT of a Wood Plastic Composite Feng, Dengcheng; Turner, Michael; Evans, P. D. (Philip D.)


The properties of wood plastic composites (WPCs) depend on their microstructure, particularly the level and geometry of wood reinforcement in the composite. We hypothesize that impregnating a WPC with a radiocontrast agent will increase the contrast between wood and plastic, allowing better visualization of its microstructure and numerical analysis of the geometry of its wood reinforcement. A commercial WPC was scanned using X-ray micro-CT, impregnated with aqueous sodium iodide, and then rescanned. CT data from both scans were visualized, and we analyzed the geometry of wood reinforcement and levels of wood, plastic, zinc borate (ZB), and voids in the WPC. ZB occurred mainly as discrete particles between wood flakes, and interfacial voids formed a network of cracks within the WPC. Sodium iodide labeling made it possible to clearly visualize wood and plastic in the WPC and quantify levels of different phases and the geometry of wood particles. However, sodium iodide was not an ideal contrast agent because it swelled wood particles, closed interfacial voids, and partially dissolved ZB particles. We suggest methods of overcoming these limitations and conclude that advances in labeling are necessary to improve our understanding of the relationship between the microstructure of WPCs and their properties.

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