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The fibrillar orientation in the S2-layer of wood fibres as determined by X-ray diffraction analysis

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It is the fibrillar orientation in the S2-layer which to a great extent determines the mechanical properties of the wood fibre, with regard both to strength and stiffness and to swelling properties. Measurements of the average fibril angle of fibres are not however easy and the results differ between the methods used. In order to evaluate in more detail how the fibril angle varies in spruce wood, an X-ray method based on diffraction from the 040-plane was developed. By comparison with microscopic examination it is concluded that reliable results relating to the fibrillar orientation in the S2-layer are obtained with the X-ray technique. It is shown that the fibril angle of mature wood is rather constant with regard to both age of the annual ring and its position in the height of the tree. The fibril angle of the earlywood is found to be only slightly higher than that of latewood fibres. It is also shown that compression wood may be easily identified by virtue of the fact that its fibril angle is much higher than that of normal mature wood.

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The authors thank Ms Ulla Jonsson for the microscopic measurements and Dr Anthony Bristow for the linguistic revision

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Sahlberg, U., Salmén, L. & Oscarsson, A. The fibrillar orientation in the S2-layer of wood fibres as determined by X-ray diffraction analysis. Wood Sci.Technol. 31, 77–86 (1997).

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