Polymers (Basel). 2022 Oct 27;14(21):4559. doi: 10.3390/polym14214559.
A growing world population means that demand for wood-based materials such as particleboard is constantly increasing. In recent years, wood prices have reached record highs, so a good alternative can be the utilization of branches, which can reduce the cost of raw materials for particleboard production. The goal of the study was to confirm the feasibility of using an alternative raw material in the form of Pinus sylvestris L. pine branches for the production of three-layer particleboard. Characterization of the alternative raw material was also carried out, and the bulk density was determined. As part of the research, six variants of particleboard, 0%, 5%, 10%, 25%, and 50%, w/w, and two variants where the first one had the face layer made of branch particles and the core layer made of industrial particles, and the reverse variant (all produced panels were three-layer) were produced and then their physical and mechanical properties were studied. The results show that even if the bulk density of branch particles is significantly higher than industrial material, the internal bond and water absorption rises as branch particle content increases. In the case of bending strength and modulus of elasticity, these were decreased with a branch particle content increase. The conducted tests confirmed the possibility of using the raw material, which was usually used as fuel or mulch, to produce particleboards even in 50% content. The present solution also contributes to the positive phenomenon of carbon storage, due to incorporating the branches’ biomass into panels rather than burning it. Further research should be focused on the modification of particle production from branches to obtain lower bulk density and to reach fraction shares closer to industrial particles. Furthermore, the chemical characterization of the pine branch particles (cellulose and lignin content, extractives content, pH value) would provide valuable data about this potential alternative raw material.