Abstract: In plants there is no universal protocol for RNA extraction, since optimizations are required depending on the species, tissues and developmental stages. Some plants/tissues are rich in secondary metabolites or synthesize thick cell walls, which hinder an efficient RNA extraction. One such example is bast fibres, long extraxylary cells characterized by a thick cellulosic cell wall. Given the economic importance of bast fibres, which are used in the textile sector, as well as in biocomposites as green substitutes of glass fibres, it is desirable to better understand their development from a molecular point of view. This knowledge favours the development of biotechnological strategies aimed at improving specific properties of bast fibres. To be able to perform high-throughput analyses, such as, for instance, transcriptomics of bast fibres, RNA extraction is a crucial and limiting step. We here detail a protocol enabling the rapid extraction of high quality RNA from the bast fibres of textile hemp, Cannabis sativa L., a multi-purpose fibre crop standing in the spotlight of research.
Abstract: A new type of reinforcement for unidirectional natural fiber composites has been developed, where a paper layer is assembled with a layer of unidirectional flax yarns. The paper layer chemically and mechanically bonds to the loose yarns to maintain their alignment and enables better manipulability of the reinforcement during stacking in the mold. Unfortunately, the paper layer adversely affects the permeability of the whole reinforcement to liquid resin and thus limits the impregnation quality of the final part. In this paper, a technique is adopted to increase the impregnation performance by modifying the architecture of the fibrous network in the paper layer. In particular, a method has been developed to replace a proportion of the Kraft fibers by short flax fibers in the paper layer, in an attempt to open the structure and increase the paper permeability. Permeability measurements show a major improvement in global reinforcement permeability. Basic mechanical properties of resulting composites were also analysed. Results show a slight decrease in modulus and strength when the paper layer is present. This is compensated by an important reduction in variability. Furthermore, increasing the flax proportion in the paper layer limits the loss of mechanical properties, while reducing variability even further.
Abstract: Cellulose nanocrystals exhibit an interesting combination of mechanical properties and physical characteristics, which make them potentially useful for a wide range of consumer applications. However, as the usage of these bio-based nanofibers increases, a greater understanding of human exposure addressing their potential health issues should be gained. The aim of this perspective is to highlight how knowledge obtained from studying the biological impact of other nanomaterials can provide a basis for future research strategies to deduce the possible human health risks posed by cellulose nanocrystals.
Abstract: Polycaprolactone (PCL) fibers were produced using Forcespinning® (FS). The effects of PCL concentration, solvent mixture, and the spinneret rotational speed on fiber formation were evaluated. The concentration of the polymer in the solvents was a critical determinant of the solution viscosity. Lower PCL concentrations resulted in low solution viscosities with a correspondingly low fiber production rate with many beads. Bead-free fibers with high production rate and uniform fiber diameter distribution were obtained from the optimum PCL concentration (i.e., 12.5 wt%) with tetrahydrofuran (THF) as the solvent. The addition of N, N-dimethylformamide (DMF) to the THF solvent promoted the gradual formation of beads, split fibers, and generally affected the distribution of fiber diameters. The crystallinity of PCL fibers was also affected by the processing conditions, spinning speed, and solvent mixture.
Abstract: The recovery and reuse of glass fibres from manufacturing waste and end-of-life composites in an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective manner is one of the most important challenges facing the thermosetting polymer composites industry. A number of processes for recycling fibres from such materials are available or under development. However, nearly all options deliver recycled glass fibres that are not cost-performance competitive due to the huge drop in strength of recycled glass fibre compared to its original state. A breakthrough in the regeneration of recycled glass fibre performance has the potential to totally transform the economics of recycling such composites. This paper reviews the available knowledge of the thermally-induced strength loss in glass fibres, discusses some of the phenomena that are potentially related and presents the status of research into processes to regenerate the strength and value of such weak recycled glass fibres.
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to evaluate, through a nonlinear Finite Element (FE) analysis, the structural behavior of Reinforced Concrete (RC) beams externally strengthened by using Steel Reinforced Grout (SRG) and Steel Reinforced Polymer (SRP) systems. The parameters taken into account were the external strengthening configuration, with or without U-wrap end anchorages, as well as the strengthening materials. The numerical simulations were carried out by using a three-dimensional (3D) FE model. The linear and nonlinear behavior of all materials was modeled by appropriate constitutive laws and the connection between concrete substrate and external reinforcing layer was simulated by means of cohesive surfaces with appropriate bond-slip laws. In order to overcome convergence difficulties, to simulate the quasi-static response of the strengthened RC beams, a dynamic approach was adopted. The numerical results in terms of load-displacement curves, failure modes, and load and strain values at critical stages were validated against some experimental data. As a result, the proposed 3D FE model can be used to predict the structural behavior up to ultimate stage of similar strengthened beams without carrying out experimental tests.