Huuhilo, T., Martikka, O., Butylina, S. and Kärki, T. 2010. Impact of Mineral Fillers to the Moisture Resistance of Wood-Plastic Composites.  Baltic Forestry 16 (1): 126-131

The impact of mineral fillers to the moisture resistance of the wood-plastic composites (WPC) is studied. Five inorganic fillers were tested for the wood-plastic composites calcium carbonate, two different types of wollastonite, soapstone and talc. The amount of polypropylene, wood and mineral was held constant, only the mineral type was changed during the tests. The studied composites were also compared with a reference sample, which was manufactured without any mineral addition. All added minerals decreased the swelling and moisture absorption of the wood-plastic composite considerably. Also the density of the wood-plastic composites increased when minerals were added. Without any added mineral, clear openings could be seen in the composite structure in scanning electron microscope (SEM) pictures. These openings could work as pathways for water into the inner parts of the WPC and increase swelling. It could also be seen in the SEM pictures that when mineral was added, these pathways for moisture were closed. After three weeks soak/freeze/dry cycles, the bending strength of the reference sample decreased considerably more than the bending strength of the samples with added minerals. Of the studied minerals, talc was the most effective.

Key words: wood-plastic composite, mineral, moisture resistance