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Using Thermal Neutron Imaging in Forest Products Research
Nayomi Plaza * 1 , Laura Hasburgh 2 , Rebecca Ibach 2 , Michael Taylor 3
1  USFS Forest Products Laboratory
2  USDA Forest Products Laboratory
3  Phoenix LLC


Neutron imaging is a non-destructive evaluation technique with enhanced hydrogen sensitivity that allows researchers to monitor water content and transport in materials. In lignocellulosic research, this technique has typically been used to measure changes in moisture content, water transport and even local changes in the density of wood. Yet, studies looking into the combined effects of moisture-uptake, chemical modifications and thermal degradation are still lacking. This is perhaps due to the inherent limited availability of these instruments and their lesser spatial resolution compared to x-ray imaging. While recent advances in detector technology and neutron production have led to continued improvements in both instrument availability and spatial resolution, the technique remains underutilized in forests products research. In this talk, we will provide an overview of the basics of neutron imaging of wood and examples of imaging using thermal neutrons produced via a compact neutron source instead of a research nuclear reactor. We will highlight studies taking advantage of the technique’s sensitivity to hydrogen content to study the effects of thermal degradation and/or chemical modifications on wood and wood-polymer composites.

Keywords: neutron imaging, neutron radiography, wood modification, wood polymer composites, thermal degradation of wood