# Evaluation of Effective Elastic Properties for Wood–Cement Composites: Experimental and Computational Investigations

^{1}

^{2}

^{*}

## Abstract

**:**

## 1. Introduction

## 2. Experimental Program

#### 2.1. Materials

^{3}, respectively. Wood is known for its high water sensitivity, characterized by a large water-absorption capacity, often exceeding twice its own weight. This water sensitivity could significantly affect the material properties in fresh and hardened states [20]. The water absorption kinetics was also assessed, providing information on the water absorption rate of the WP and the time until saturation, which is 2 min for these wood particles. During specimen production, this time will be respected for WP water saturation. The water absorption capacity after 24 h is 174%.

^{3}. The cement used for the composite manufacturing is a CEM I 52.5 N, with a real density of 3.11 g/cm

^{3}and a 98% clinker content.

#### 2.2. Mix Design and Extrusion of Wood–Cement Composites (WCC)

_{0}).

_{23}) to 46% (WCC

_{46}) (Table 1). However, the cement paste content was set to 40% in volume and the water-to-cement ratio to 0.3, in all mixes. Moreover, in order to avoid the absorption of the effective water used for the cement matrix hydration, the wood particles were saturated for 2 min prior to mixing process. Then, the sand and the cement were added into the mixture, and mixed for 1 min before introducing the water progressively for 1 min. Then, a 3-min mixing cycle was run to homogenize the mixture. The WCC

_{0}mortar formulation was optimized for extrusion by varying the cement paste volume (cement + water) and water–cement ratio to obtain an extrudable mix. These choices of wood-particle incorporation ratio were derived from a previous study conducted on the optimization of mortar extrusion using wood sawdust for masonry building block [46]. The greater quantity of paste volume generates the reduction in inside mix friction and of friction between extruder-wall and mix. Any rheology modifiers or similar chemical admixtures were used to avoid complex physicochemical interactions in the mix. Indeed, interactions between wood particles and rheology modifiers or chemical additions are not well-studied in the literature.

_{0}), wood particles lead to a relative drop in density from 19% (with WCC

_{23}) to 35% (with WCC

_{46}). A polynomial regression type confirmed by a very good correlation coefficient (0.99) was obtained. This drop may be correlated with the mass density difference between sand and WP. It turns out that the density of sand (equal to 2.64 g/cm

^{3}) is eight times higher than that of WP (equal to 0.39 g/cm

^{3}). The low density inherent in extruded blocks constitutes a real advantage in terms of reducing structural weight.

#### 2.3. Mechanical Tests

_{0}, WCC

_{23}and WCC

_{35}). The increase in the volume ratio of WP leads to a reduction in the Young’s modulus and the maximum strength. An increase in strain at the failure point is also noted. The incorporation of wood particles into the mixes seems to improve the composites strain. This phenomenon is due to the high deformability of wood particles, which allows composites to deform significantly under low stress.

_{m}) was determined from the stress–strain curves. In Figure 4 is shown the Young’s modulus according to the wood volume in the composite after 14 days of curing. The Young’s modulus decreases as wood volume in the mix increases. Similar results were obtained by Bashar et al. for wood-chip-based composites [37].

_{0}, WCC

_{35}and WCC

_{46}). In Figure 5 is presented the heat flow evolution (in isothermal conditions) of the fresh mixes during the 48 h after mixing. It can be observed that the incorporation of wood particles leads to a reduction in the maximum heat flow peak. This is accompanied by a slowdown of the kinetics of hydration. Thus, the introduction of wood particles disturbs the cement hydration of the fresh composite, which may affect the formation of cement hydrates. In parallel, there is a delay in the appearance of the maximum heat peak, which suggests that the cement hydration in the mix is gradually disturbed. The maximum heat flow reductions are by 26% and 39% for WCC

_{35}and WCC

_{46}, respectively. The time of the cement setting is 2 h 30 min for the WCC

_{0}and more than 5 h for WCC

_{35}and WCC

_{46}composites. The setting time delay is, therefore, approximately equal to 2 h 30 min, i.e., a doubled setting time. This inhibition is even more pronounced as the content of wood particles in the composite is high.

_{0}. This wood-particle (WP) content seems to correspond to a threshold volume beyond which WP percolates into the composite. Several micrographs were performed on several longitudinal sections and cross-sections of the blocks in a previous study [36]. The observations confirmed the assumption of WP percolation. Saturation can be observed in the structure by wood particles from the WCC

_{40}compared to other composites.

_{0}, ρ

_{0}and E

_{c}, ρ

_{c}denote the Young’s modulus and the bulk density of the reference mix and the composite, respectively. C and n are constants determined by experiments.

_{0}to WCC

_{35}, a relative function of the Young’s modulus was obtained with Equation (2).

## 3. Predictive Numerical Modeling

#### 3.1. Analytical Homogenization Models

- VR bounds

- Upper and lower HS bounds, HS
^{+}and HS^{−}

^{HS}

^{+}and E

^{HS}

^{−}represent upper and lower Young’s modulus, respectively.

- Mori–Tanaka model

^{MT}.

#### 3.2. Numerical Simulations

#### 3.2.1. Mesh of Microstructures

_{40}, a large proportion of WP are observed in the sample.

#### 3.2.2. Boundary Conditions and Mesh Density

#### 3.2.3. Estimation of the Effective Elastic Properties

## 4. Conclusions

- The Young’s modulus of wood–cement composites decreases with the increase in WP content. Two behavioral phases can be observed. An almost linear drop in the normalized modulus of elasticity as a function of the WP rate, up to a rate of 35%. This volume corresponds to the percolation threshold of the wood particles in the mixture. From this level and extending to a volume of 46%, the loss of mechanical properties in compression is considerable. Above a 40% WP volume, the higher WP in WCC exerts a very low influence on the mechanical properties of composites.
- The estimation of the Young’s modulus by homogenization analytical method shows that the Mori–Tanaka model (MT) and upper Hashin and Shtrikman bounds (HS) allow a good approximation of mechanical properties in the case of a low proportion of wood particles in the mixture. Beyond 35% WP volume, conventional homogenization models are not appropriate to approximate the mechanical properties. Indeed, the percolation of wood particles and cement hydration disturbances result in a poor assessment of the modulus of elasticity.
- The numerical homogenization procedure was performed using the finite elements method based on a representative volume element (RVE). The contrast between the numerical results and experimental approach allow a good approximation of mechanical properties up to a 35% threshold volume. Beyond the percolation threshold, the numerical microstructure does not match the actual microstructure. In addition, the inhibition of the cement hydration may be greater. However, this poor estimation can also depend on the experimental sample size, which is no longer representative for large volume fractions. It seems legitimate to question the effect of specimen size on the elastic properties for proportions varying from 40% to 50%.

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Institutional Review Board Statement

## Informed Consent Statement

## Data Availability Statement

## Acknowledgments

## Conflicts of Interest

## References

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**Figure 1.**(

**a**) wood particles (WP) observation with the naked eye, (

**b**) microscopic observation of wood particles.

**Figure 8.**Representation of microstructures with different volume fractions of aggregates, (

**a**–

**d**) being the volume fractions of 23%, 40%, 50% and the inside cut of 40% volume fractions.

**Figure 11.**Homogenized Young’s modulus according to the WP content: comparison between experimental and numerical results.

**Table 1.**Various constituents concentrations of wood mortars, with δ

_{(C + W)}, δ

_{(S)}and δ

_{(WP)}being volume ratio of paste (cement + water), sand and sawdust in the mixture, respectively.

Volume Ratio | Concentrations (kg/m^{3}) | ||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

Mix Design | δ _{(C +W)} | δ _{(S)} | δ _{(WP)} | Cement | Water | Sand | Wood Particles |

WCC_{0} | 40% | 60% | 0% | 488 | 244 | 1568 | 0 |

WCC_{23} | 40% | 37% | 23% | 646 | 194 | 985 | 91 |

WCC_{26} | 40% | 34% | 26% | 646 | 194 | 806 | 114 |

WCC_{32} | 40% | 28% | 32% | 646 | 194 | 730 | 125 |

WCC_{35} | 40% | 25% | 35% | 646 | 194 | 653 | 137 |

WCC_{40} | 40% | 20% | 40% | 646 | 194 | 501 | 159 |

WCC_{46} | 40% | 14% | 46% | 646 | 194 | 348 | 182 |

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Ndong Engone, J.G.; El Moumen, A.; Djelal, C.; Imad, A.; Kanit, T.; Page, J.
Evaluation of Effective Elastic Properties for Wood–Cement Composites: Experimental and Computational Investigations. *Sustainability* **2022**, *14*, 8638.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148638

**AMA Style**

Ndong Engone JG, El Moumen A, Djelal C, Imad A, Kanit T, Page J.
Evaluation of Effective Elastic Properties for Wood–Cement Composites: Experimental and Computational Investigations. *Sustainability*. 2022; 14(14):8638.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148638

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Ndong Engone, Jean Gérard, Ahmed El Moumen, Chafika Djelal, Abdellatif Imad, Toufik Kanit, and Jonathan Page.
2022. "Evaluation of Effective Elastic Properties for Wood–Cement Composites: Experimental and Computational Investigations" *Sustainability* 14, no. 14: 8638.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148638