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Materials 2017, 10(11), 1252; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma10111252

Effect of Fungal Deterioration on Physical and Mechanical Properties of Hemp and Flax Natural Fiber Composites

1
Composites Research Network-Okanagan Node, School of Engineering, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7, Canada
2
Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA
3
Department of Biology, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7, Canada
4
National Research Council-Automotive and Surface Transportation, Boucherville, QC J4B 6Y4, Canada
5
National Research Council-Aquatic and Crop Resource Development, Montréal, QC H4P 2R2, Canada
Co-first authors.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 October 2017 / Revised: 26 October 2017 / Accepted: 26 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modeling and Simulation of Advanced Composite Materials)
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Abstract

The development and application of bio-sourced composites have been gaining wide attention, yet their deterioration due to the growth of ubiquitous microorganisms during storage/manufacturing/in-service phases is still not fully understood for optimum material selection and design purposes. In this study, samples of non-woven flax fibers, hemp fibers, and mats made of co-mingled randomly-oriented flax or hemp fiber (50%) and polypropylene fiber (50%) were subjected to 28 days of exposure to (i) no water-no fungi, (ii) water only and (iii) water along with the Chaetomium globosum fungus. Biocomposite samples were measured for weight loss over time, to observe the rate of fungal growth and the respiration of cellulose components in the fibers. Tensile testing was conducted to measure mechanical properties of the composite samples under different configurations. Scanning electron microscopy was employed to visualize fungal hyphal growth on the natural fibers, as well as to observe the fracture planes and failure modes of the biocomposite samples. Results showed that fungal growth significantly affects the dry mass as well as the tensile elastic modulus of the tested natural fiber mats and composites, and the effect depends on both the type and the length scale of fibers, as well as the exposure condition and time. View Full-Text
Keywords: biocomposites; hemp and flax natural fibers; fungal deterioration; material properties; design considerations biocomposites; hemp and flax natural fibers; fungal deterioration; material properties; design considerations
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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. (CC BY 4.0).
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Crawford, B.; Pakpour, S.; Kazemian, N.; Klironomos, J.; Stoeffler, K.; Rho, D.; Denault, J.; Milani, A.S. Effect of Fungal Deterioration on Physical and Mechanical Properties of Hemp and Flax Natural Fiber Composites. Materials 2017, 10, 1252.

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