Wouter Peerbooms

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13th of February 2017 till 21st of May 2017 (excluding holiday)

New Zealand has been at the top of my list of countries I would really like to visit for a while. So when I went to Patrick to talk about my internship this was my first choice. Unfortunately Patrick had no contacts in New Zealand, but that didn’t stop me from trying to go there. After some searching for polymer technology groups, I found some groups that were suitable and Patrick sent an email to Kim Pickering at the University of Waikato. Within a few days we got the good news that I was welcome in Hamilton. It took some time to figure out the details of my project, but on the 13th of February I started on what would be an interesting and challenging project.

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My research goal was to figure out whether it is possible to use fibers of wood, that was treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), as a filler in polypropylene. The advantage of using this CCA-treated wood can be found in the fact that large quantities of this wood end up in landfills at the end of their lifetime. If this wood can be used in wood fiber reinforced polymers, it could be recycled into new products. The first step in my research was to turn CCA-treated lumber into wood fibers suitable for polymer composites. The parameters of the chemical pulping process were varied to produce fibers that were usable in the polypropylene. The materials were then compounded using an extruder and eventually injection molded into tensile testing specimens. The tensile properties of the composites proved to be promising for the use of CCA-treated wood fibers in polypropylene. 

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After my internship I spent another 5 weeks traveling around New Zealand. The country is amazing and everywhere you go there’s something beautiful to see. The culture is comparable to the Netherlands, but the people are more relaxed and very friendly. During my road trip around the two islands I’ve seen too many things to mention them all, but my favorites are the Tongariro crossing, Doubtful sound and of course Hobbiton.