Key Words: Wood materials; average moisture content; autoclave steaming; 2D mathematical models; Table Curve 2D; veneer production.
Abstract. A method and an algorithm for computing the average moisture content of the whole quantity of wood materials in given batch subjected to thermal treatment has been suggested. This value of the average wood moisture content is needed for calculation and automatic realization of optimal energy saving regimes for such treatment of the materials. The method is based on the use of two own mathematical models: one of the 2D temperature distributions in non-frozen prismatic wood materials during their thermal treatment and another – of the heat balance of steaming autoclaves. For numerical solving of the models and practical application of the suggested method, a software program was prepared in the calculation environment of Visual FORTRAN Professional developed by Microsoft and operating under Windows. Using this program computation of the non-stationary change in the processing medium temperature in an autoclave during steaming in it of non-frozen beech prisms with different moisture content aimed at their plasticizing before cutting them into veneer have been carried out. The variables used during the simulations were equal, as follows: an initial wood temperature of 0 °C, moisture content u from 0.4 to 0.8 kg·kg−1 with an interval of 0.05 kg·kg−1, and cross-section dimensions of prisms 0.4 × 0.4 m; steaming autoclave with inner diameter of 2.4 m, length of its cylindrical part of 9.0 m, and loading level with prisms of 50%; limited heat power of 500 kW of the generator, which feeds the autoclave with saturated water steam. The calculated by the models increase of the steaming medium temperature in the beginning stage of basic regime at u = 0.6 kg·kg−1 is compared with the real increase of that temperature at different values of u, which is periodically measured with a sensor in the automatic control system. After proper processing of the obtained differences between measured and calculated temperatures with the software package Table Curve 2D, an equation for calculating the average moisture content of the wood materials in the whole batch loaded in an autoclave is derived. The good accuracy of the suggested method is proved for the cases of autoclave steaming of non-frozen beech prisms intended for production of veneer.