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Molecules 2013, 18(8), 9132-9146; doi:10.3390/molecules18089132
Article

Modification of Oil Palm Mesocarp Fiber Characteristics Using Superheated Steam Treatment

1,2
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1,3,* , 4,* , 1
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4
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5
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6
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1 Department of Bioprocess Technology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang 43400 UPM, Selangor, Malaysia 2 Faculty of Chemical and Natural Resources Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun Razak, Kuantan 26300, Pahang, Malaysia 3 Laboratory of Biopolymer and Derivatives, Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products (INTROP), Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang 43400 UPM, Selangor, Malaysia 4 Department of Biological Functions and Engineering, Graduate School of Life Science and System Engineering, Kyushu Institute of Technology, 2-4 Hibikino, Wakamatsu, Fukuoka 808-0196, Japan 5 Faculty of Defense Science and Technology, National Defence University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur 57000, Malaysia 6 Department of Energy Science, Alagappa University, Karaikudi, Tamilnadu, India 7 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang 43400 UPM, Selangor, Malaysia
* Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 May 2013 / Revised: 15 July 2013 / Accepted: 16 July 2013 / Published: 30 July 2013
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Abstract

In this study, oil palm mesocarp fiber (OPMF) was treated with superheated steam (SHS) in order to modify its characteristics for biocomposite applications. Treatment was conducted at temperatures 190–230 °C for 1, 2 and 3 h. SHS-treated OPMF was evaluated for its chemical composition, thermal stability, morphology and crystallinity. OPMF treated at 230 °C exhibited lower hemicellulose content (9%) compared to the untreated OPMF (33%). Improved thermal stability of OPMF was found after the SHS treatment. Moreover, SEM and ICP analyses of SHS-treated OPMF showed that silica bodies were removed from OPMF after the SHS treatment. XRD results exhibited that OPMF crystallinity increased after SHS treatment, indicating tougher fiber properties. Hemicellulose removal makes the fiber surface more hydrophobic, whereby silica removal increases the surface roughness of the fiber. Overall, the results obtained herewith suggested that SHS is an effective treatment method for surface modification and subsequently improving the characteristics of the natural fiber. Most importantly, the use of novel, eco-friendly SHS may contribute to the green and sustainable treatment for surface modification of natural fiber.
Keywords: oil palm mesocarp fiber (OPMF); silica bodies; superheated steam treatment (SHS); hemicelluloses removal; biocomposite oil palm mesocarp fiber (OPMF); silica bodies; superheated steam treatment (SHS); hemicelluloses removal; biocomposite
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Nordin, N.I.A.A.; Ariffin, H.; Andou, Y.; Hassan, M.A.; Shirai, Y.; Nishida, H.; Yunus, W.M.Z.W.; Karuppuchamy, S.; Ibrahim, N.A. Modification of Oil Palm Mesocarp Fiber Characteristics Using Superheated Steam Treatment. Molecules 2013, 18, 9132-9146.

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