Non-destructive determination and quantification of diffusion processes in wood by means of neutron imaging

David Mannes, Walter Sonderegger 1 , Stefan Hering 1 , Eberhard Lehmann 2 ,  and Peter Niemz 1
  • 1 Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, Institute for Building Materials, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2 Spallation Neutron Source (ASQ), Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Villigen, Switzerland


Diffusion processes in samples of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst.) were determined and quantified by means of neutron imaging (NI). The experiments were carried out at the neutron imaging facility NEUTRA at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen (Switzerland) using a thermal neutron spectrum. NI is a non-destructive and non-invasive testing method with a very high sensitivity for hydrogen and thus water. Within the scope of this study, diffusion processes in the longitudinal direction were ascertained for solid wood samples exposed to a differentiating climate (dry side/wet side). With NI it was possible to determine the local distribution and consequently the total amount of water absorbed by the samples. The calculated values scarcely differ from those ascertained by weighing (≤3%). The method yields profiles of the water content over the whole sample, thus allowing the local and temporal resolution of diffusion processes within the sample in the main transport direction (longitudinal). On the basis of these profiles, it was possible to calculate the diffusion coefficients along the fibre direction according to Fick's second law.

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Holzforschung is an international scholarly journal that publishes cutting-edge research on the biology, chemistry, physics and technology of wood and wood components. High quality papers about biotechnology and tree genetics are also welcome. Rated year after year as one of the top scientific journals in the category of Pulp and Paper (ISI Journal Citation Index), Holzforschung represents innovative, high quality basic and applied research.