Natural Fibre Research and Selection for the project completed

Partners CETI and Centexbel have been investigating and evaluating the many natural fibres that can be used for manufacturing natural fibre composites.

The interest in natural fibres composites is growing rapidly due to their potential to replace synthetic fibre composites at lower cost and lower environmental impact. In addition natural fibres are a renewable resource for which production requires generally less energy compared to synthetic fibres. Many natural fibres can be used for the manufacturing of natural fibre composites and these were tested and evaluated as part of the SeaBioComp project.

The choice of the natural fibre in the composite is very important because the fibre used for reinforcement will directly affect the properties of the composite including elongation, strength and Young’s modulus. The main disadvantages of using natural fibres in the reinforcement of composites is the low thermal stability during fabrication and poor compatibility between fibre and matrix.

The SeaBioComp project has undertaken important research in order to give an overview of the different natural fibres available and of the different treatments which can be used to improve the interphase between fibres and matrix.

As a result of this work, two natural fibres have been selected (according to their environmental impact, cost, properties and availability) which will be used in the SeaBioComp project to manufacture pilot products. Flax and hemp were selected as the most suitable fibres to be used, due to a combination of their availability in Europe, mechanical properties, price and environmental impacts.

In the research, it was demonstrated that the level of retting is important and should be discussed with the supplier during purchasing. A high degree of retting enables easier splitting of the fibre bundles during fibre / matrix extrusion and injection moulding. This involves an increase of the mechanical properties with the degree of retting for both Young’s modulus and strength at breaking point.

The project research shows that it is necessary to improve the interface between fibre and matrix. Reinforcing fibres can be modified by physical, chemical or biological methods. Chemical treatments (such as alkali) are the most commonly used. Biological treatment (using enzymes) is becoming increasingly popular and offers particular benefit relating to environmental friendliness.

By making natural composite products using plant-based natural fibres as a reinforcement and biodegradable polymers as matrices, the project hopes that the ecological impact will be more than half compared to oil-based composites in addition to a 30 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions from their production.

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Posted 2020-05-01 13:37:02

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