In this study, four kinds of lignocellulosic fibers (LFs), namely, those from Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata), Taiwan red pine (Pinus taiwanensis), India-charcoal trema (Trema orientalis) and makino bamboo (Phyllostachys makinoi), were selected as reinforcements and incorporated into high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to manufacture wood-plastic composites (WPCs) by a flat platen pressing process. In addition to comparing the differences in the physico-mechanical properties of these composites, their chemical compositions were evaluated and their thermal decomposition kinetics were analyzed to investigate the effects of the lignocellulosic species on the properties of the WPCs. The results showed that the WPC made with Chinese fir displayed a typical M-shaped vertical density profile due to the high aspect ratio of its LFs, while a flat vertical density profile was observed for the WPCs made with other LFs. Thus, the WPC made with Chinese fir exhibited higher flexural properties and lower internal bond strength (IB) than other WPCs. In addition, the Taiwan red pine contained the lowest holocellulose content and the highest extractives and α-cellulose contents, which gave the resulting WPC lower water absorption and flexural properties. On the other hand, consistent with the flexural properties, the results of thermal decomposition kinetic analysis showed that the activation energy of the LFs at 10% of the conversion rate increased in the order of Taiwan red pine (146–161 kJ/mol), makino bamboo (158–175 kJ/mol), India-charcoal trema (185–194 kJ/mol) and Chinese fir (194–202 kJ/mol). These results indicate that the morphology, chemical composition and thermal stability of the LFs can have a substantial impact on the physico-mechanical properties of the resulting WPCs.
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