The orthogonal design method was used to determine the optimum conditions for modifying poplar fibers through a high temperature and pressurized steam treatment for the subsequent preparation of wood fiber/high-density polyethylene (HDPE) composites. The extreme difference, variance, and significance analyses were performed to reveal the effect of the modification parameters on the mechanical properties of the prepared composites, and they yielded consistent results. The main findings indicated that the modification temperature most strongly affected the mechanical properties of the prepared composites, followed by the steam pressure. A temperature of 170 °C, a steam pressure of 0.8 MPa, and a processing time of 20 min were determined as the optimum parameters for fiber modification. Compared to the composites prepared from untreated fibers, the tensile, flexural, and impact strength of the composites prepared from modified fibers increased by 20.17%, 18.5%, and 19.3%, respectively. The effect on the properties of the composites was also investigated by scanning electron microscopy and dynamic mechanical analysis. When the temperature, steam pressure, and processing time reached the highest values, the composites exhibited the best mechanical properties, which were also well in agreement with the results of the extreme difference, variance, and significance analyses. Moreover, the crystallinity and thermal stability of the fibers and the storage modulus of the prepared composites improved; however, the hollocellulose content and the pH of the wood fibers decreased.
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