Structural performance of HDPE and WPC lumber components used in aquacultural geodesic spherical cages
Publication Name: Polymers - Advances in Wood Composites
Publication URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/12/1/26
Based on previous research, a novel woodplastic composite (WPC) lumber has shown potential to replace high-density polyethylene (HDPE) lumber in the construction of aquacultural geodesic spherical cage structures. Six HDPE and six WPC assemblies, which are representative of typical full-size cage dimensions, were fabricated by bolting pairs of triangular panel components made with connected struts. Half of the panel assemblies had a plastic-coated steel wire mesh to simulate the actual restraint in field applications of the cages. The objective of the research was to characterize the structural performance of the panel assemblies under compressive loading. To determine the critical buckling load for the panel assemblies made from WPC and HDPE struts with and without wire mesh, Southwells method was implemented. A two-dimensional (2D) linear finite element analysis model was developed to determine axial forces in the struts of the panel assembly for the applied load and boundary conditions. This model was used to determine strut compressive forces corresponding to the Southwells method buckling load and the experimental failure load. It was found that the wire mesh increased the load capacity of both HDPE and WPC panel assemblies by a factor of two. The typical failure mode of the panels made from HDPE lumber struts, with and without wire mesh, was buckling of the struts, whereas the failure mode of the WPC panels, with and without wire mesh, was fracture at the notched section corresponding to the location of the bolts. The load capacity of the panel assemblies made from WPC lumber struts was three times and 2.5 times higher than the load capacity of the panel assemblies made from HDPE lumber struts with and without wire mesh, respectively.