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Special Issue "Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites"

A special issue of Materials (ISSN 1996-1944).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Kim L. Pickering

School of Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Website | E-Mail
Interests: natual-fiber; composites; semi-structural/structural applications

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Biocomposites can be defined as composites containing material produced biologically, including those containing natural fibers. This area has seen an explosion of interest over the last few decades, relating to the potential benefits of this group compared to more conventionally utilized materials (including glass fiber reinforced composites), such as reduced cost, lower density, local availability, and also regarding their use as a renewable resource for which production involves carbon dioxide absorption and requires less energy. At the end of their service lives, they have shown better recycling potential and lower emission of toxic fumes during incineration. However, there are remaining challenges that need to be met to extend their commercial application including those of reducing moisture absorption, improving mechanical performance and fire resistance, dealing with higher fiber variability and lower possible processing temperatures. Good progress is occurring for biocomposites with emerging applications demonstrating that these challenges are being overcome and even enabling their use beyond semi-structural applications in structural and outdoor applications. It is timely to assess the progress made in this area and I welcome any submissions in this Special Issue, including review papers and technical papers in this area to help celebrate such recent successes.

Prof. Kim L. Pickering
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • bio-composites
  • natural-fiber
  • advanced performance

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Residual Tensile Property of Plain Woven Jute Fiber/Poly(Lactic Acid) Green Composites during Thermal Cycling
Materials 2016, 9(7), 573; doi:10.3390/ma9070573
Received: 23 March 2016 / Revised: 30 June 2016 / Accepted: 11 July 2016 / Published: 14 July 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (6012 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study investigated the residual tensile properties of plain woven jute fiber reinforced poly(lactic acid) (PLA) during thermal cycling. Temperature ranges of thermal cycling tests were 35–45 °C and 35–55 °C. The maximum number of cycles was 103 cycles. The quasi-static tensile
[...] Read more.
This study investigated the residual tensile properties of plain woven jute fiber reinforced poly(lactic acid) (PLA) during thermal cycling. Temperature ranges of thermal cycling tests were 35–45 °C and 35–55 °C. The maximum number of cycles was 103 cycles. The quasi-static tensile tests of jute fiber, PLA, and composite were conducted after thermal cycling tests. Thermal mechanical analyses of jute fiber and PLA were conducted after thermal cycling tests. Results led to the following conclusions. For temperatures of 35–45 °C, tensile strength of composite at 103 cycles decreased 10% compared to that of composite at 0 cycles. For temperatures of 35–55 °C, tensile strength and Young’s modulus of composite at 103 cycles decreased 15% and 10%, respectively, compared to that of composite at 0 cycles. Tensile properties and the coefficient of linear expansion of PLA and jute fiber remained almost unchanged after thermal cycling tests. From observation of a fracture surface, the length of fiber pull out in the fracture surface of composite at 103 cycles was longer than that of composite at 0 cycles. Therefore, tensile properties of the composite during thermal cycling were decreased, probably because of the decrease of interfacial adhesion between the fiber and resin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
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Open AccessArticle Preliminary Design and Experimental Investigation of a Novel Pneumatic Conveying Method to Disperse Natural Fibers in Thermoset Polymers
Materials 2016, 9(7), 548; doi:10.3390/ma9070548
Received: 30 April 2016 / Revised: 29 June 2016 / Accepted: 30 June 2016 / Published: 7 July 2016
PDF Full-text (3627 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Natural fibers can be attractive reinforcing materials in thermosetting polymers due to their low density and high specific mechanical properties. Although the research effort in this area has grown substantially over the last 20 years, manufacturing technologies to make use of short natural
[...] Read more.
Natural fibers can be attractive reinforcing materials in thermosetting polymers due to their low density and high specific mechanical properties. Although the research effort in this area has grown substantially over the last 20 years, manufacturing technologies to make use of short natural fibers in high volume fraction composites; are still limited. Natural fibers, after retting and preprocessing, are discontinuous and easily form entangled bundles. Dispersion and mixing these short fibers with resin to manufacture high quality, high volume fraction composites presents a significant challenge. In this paper, a novel pneumatic design for dispersion of natural fibers in their original discontinuous form is described. In this design, compressed air is used to create vacuum to feed and convey fibres while breaking down fibre clumps and dispersing them in an aerosolized resin stream. Model composite materials, made using proof-of-concept prototype equipment, were imaged with both optical and X-ray tomography to evaluate fibre and resin dispersion. The images indicated that the system was capable of providing an intimate mixture of resin and detangled fibres for two different resin viscosities. The new pneumatic process could serve as the basis of a system to produce well-dispersed high-volume fraction composites containing discontinuous natural fibres drawn directly from a loosely packed source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Formability Analysis of Bamboo Fabric Reinforced Poly (Lactic) Acid Composites
Materials 2016, 9(7), 539; doi:10.3390/ma9070539
Received: 20 April 2016 / Revised: 21 June 2016 / Accepted: 22 June 2016 / Published: 2 July 2016
PDF Full-text (5650 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Poly (lactic) acid (PLA) composites have made their way into various applications that may require thermoforming to produce 3D shapes. Wrinkles are common in many forming processes and identification of the forming parameters to prevent them in the useful part of the mechanical
[...] Read more.
Poly (lactic) acid (PLA) composites have made their way into various applications that may require thermoforming to produce 3D shapes. Wrinkles are common in many forming processes and identification of the forming parameters to prevent them in the useful part of the mechanical component is a key consideration. Better prediction of such defects helps to significantly reduce the time required for a tooling design process. The purpose of the experiment discussed here is to investigate the effects of different test parameters on the occurrence of deformations during sheet forming of double curvature shapes with bamboo fabric reinforced-PLA composites. The results demonstrated that the domes formed using hot tooling conditions were better in quality than those formed using cold tooling conditions. Wrinkles were more profound in the warp direction of the composite domes compared to the weft direction. Grid Strain Analysis (GSA) identifies the regions of severe deformation and provides useful information regarding the optimisation of processing parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Use of Natural-Fiber Bio-Composites in Construction versus Traditional Solutions: Operational and Embodied Energy Assessment
Materials 2016, 9(6), 465; doi:10.3390/ma9060465
Received: 20 April 2016 / Revised: 7 June 2016 / Accepted: 8 June 2016 / Published: 13 June 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1654 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
During the last decades natural polymers have become more and more frequent to replace traditional inorganic stabilizers in building materials. The purpose of this research is to establish a comparison between the most conventional building material solutions for load-bearing walls and a type
[...] Read more.
During the last decades natural polymers have become more and more frequent to replace traditional inorganic stabilizers in building materials. The purpose of this research is to establish a comparison between the most conventional building material solutions for load-bearing walls and a type of biomaterial. This comparison will focus on load-bearing walls as used in a widespread type of twentieth century dwelling construction in Europe and still used in developing countries nowadays. To carry out this analysis, the structural and thermal insulation characteristics of different construction solutions are balanced. The tool used for this evaluation is the life cycle assessment throughout the whole lifespan of these buildings. This research aims to examine the environmental performance of each material assessed: fired clay brick masonry walls (BW), concrete block masonry walls (CW), and stabilized soil block masonry walls (SW) stabilized with natural fibers and alginates. These conventional and new materials are evaluated from the point of view of both operational and embodied energy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Effects of Temperature on the Compressive Strength Parallel to the Grain of Bamboo Scrimbe
Materials 2016, 9(6), 436; doi:10.3390/ma9060436
Received: 6 April 2016 / Revised: 23 May 2016 / Accepted: 27 May 2016 / Published: 2 June 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2774 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objective of this study was to investigate the compressive strength parallel to the grain of bamboo scrimber during and after exposure to various temperatures, in a range from 20 to 225 °C. These data were used to provide a basis for the
[...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to investigate the compressive strength parallel to the grain of bamboo scrimber during and after exposure to various temperatures, in a range from 20 to 225 °C. These data were used to provide a basis for the evaluation of the fire performance of bamboo structures. A total of 152 specimens, assembled as group “during-fire” and “post-fire”, were tested during and after exposure to high temperatures. The experimental results indicated that there were significant differences in compressive properties between the “during-fire” and “post-fire” groups. At one temperature level, the compressive strength and modulus of elasticity of the “post-fire” group were significantly higher than those properties of the “during fire” group, but the ductility coefficient was reversed. FTIR analysis results showed that 175 °C was a key turning point, at which thermal decomposition occurred in the cellulose of the bamboo and phenolic resin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Surface Modified Cellulose Utilizing TGA-MS
Materials 2016, 9(6), 415; doi:10.3390/ma9060415
Received: 31 March 2016 / Revised: 13 May 2016 / Accepted: 20 May 2016 / Published: 25 May 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3909 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
With the aim to enhance interfacial adhesion of a hydrophobic polymer matrix and cellulosic fibers and fillers, chemical surface modifications with silane coupling agents are performed. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) could be used to determine the degree of surface functionalization. However, similar thermal properties
[...] Read more.
With the aim to enhance interfacial adhesion of a hydrophobic polymer matrix and cellulosic fibers and fillers, chemical surface modifications with silane coupling agents are performed. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) could be used to determine the degree of surface functionalization. However, similar thermal properties of treated and untreated cellulose hamper a precise determination of silane loading. This contribution deals with quantitative determination of silane loading combining both TGA and elemental analysis. Firstly, silane modified celluloses were studied by FT-IR, Raman, solid state NMR spectroscopy, and polarized light microscopy in order to determine functional groups and to study the impact of chemical treatment on cellulose morphology. Secondly, thermal stability and pyrolysis processes were studied by TG-MS analysis. In order to determine the exact silane loading, the mass percentages of the appropriate elements were quantified by elemental analysis and correlated with the charred residues determined by TGA yielding a linear dependency. With that correlation, it was possible to determine silane loadings for additional samples utilizing simple TGA measurements. The main advantage of that approach is that only one calibration is necessary for routine analyses of further samples and TGA-MS coupling gives additional information on thermal stability and pyrolysis routes, simultaneously. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Influence of Hybridizing Flax and Hemp-Agave Fibers with Glass Fiber as Reinforcement in a Polyurethane Composite
Materials 2016, 9(5), 390; doi:10.3390/ma9050390
Received: 31 March 2016 / Revised: 6 May 2016 / Accepted: 13 May 2016 / Published: 19 May 2016
PDF Full-text (8324 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, six combinations of flax, hemp, and glass fiber were investigated for a hybrid reinforcement system in a polyurethane (PU) composite. The natural fibers were combined with glass fibers in a PU composite in order to achieve a better mechanical reinforcement
[...] Read more.
In this study, six combinations of flax, hemp, and glass fiber were investigated for a hybrid reinforcement system in a polyurethane (PU) composite. The natural fibers were combined with glass fibers in a PU composite in order to achieve a better mechanical reinforcement in the composite material. The effect of fiber hybridization in PU composites was evaluated through physical and mechanical properties such as water absorption (WA), specific gravity (SG), coefficient of linear thermal expansion (CLTE), flexural and compression properties, and hardness. The mechanical properties of hybridized samples showed mixed trends compared to the unhybridized samples, but hybridization with glass fiber reduced water absorption by 37% and 43% for flax and hemp-agave PU composites respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Production of Banana Fiber Yarns for Technical Textile Reinforced Composites
Materials 2016, 9(5), 370; doi:10.3390/ma9050370
Received: 11 April 2016 / Revised: 5 May 2016 / Accepted: 9 May 2016 / Published: 13 May 2016
PDF Full-text (3109 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Natural fibers have been used as an alternative to synthetic ones for their greener character; banana fibers have the advantage of coming from an agricultural residue. Fibers have been extracted by mechanical means from banana tree pseudostems, as a strategy to valorize banana
[...] Read more.
Natural fibers have been used as an alternative to synthetic ones for their greener character; banana fibers have the advantage of coming from an agricultural residue. Fibers have been extracted by mechanical means from banana tree pseudostems, as a strategy to valorize banana crops residues. To increase the mechanical properties of the composite, technical textiles can be used as reinforcement, instead of short fibers. To do so, fibers must be spun and woven. The aim of this paper is to show the viability of using banana fibers to obtain a yarn suitable to be woven, after an enzymatic treatment, which is more environmentally friendly. Extracted long fibers are cut to 50 mm length and then immersed into an enzymatic bath for their refining. Conditions of enzymatic treatment have been optimized to produce a textile grade of banana fibers, which have then been characterized. The optimum treating conditions were found with the use of Biopectinase K (100% related to fiber weight) at 45 °C, pH 4.5 for 6 h, with bath renewal after three hours. The first spinning trials show that these fibers are suitable to be used for the production of yarns. The next step is the weaving process to obtain a technical fabric for composites production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Effects of Surface Modification on the Mechanical Properties of Flax/β-Polypropylene Composites
Materials 2016, 9(5), 314; doi:10.3390/ma9050314
Received: 30 March 2016 / Revised: 13 April 2016 / Accepted: 21 April 2016 / Published: 27 April 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (4438 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The effects of surface treatment of flax fibers featuring vinyltrimethoxy silane (VTMO) and maleic anhydride-polypropylene (MAPP) on the mechanical properties of flax/PP composites were investigated. α-polypropylene (α-PP) and β-polypropylene (β-PP) were used as matrices for measuring the mechanical properties of the flax fiber/polypropylene
[...] Read more.
The effects of surface treatment of flax fibers featuring vinyltrimethoxy silane (VTMO) and maleic anhydride-polypropylene (MAPP) on the mechanical properties of flax/PP composites were investigated. α-polypropylene (α-PP) and β-polypropylene (β-PP) were used as matrices for measuring the mechanical properties of the flax fiber/polypropylene (flax/PP) composites. Flax/PP composites composed of double-covered uncommingled yarn (DCUY) were prepared using a film-stacking technique. The influence of surface treatment on the tensile, flexural, impact, and water uptake properties of Flax/PP composites were investigated. MAPP treatment was suitable for flax/PP composites in terms of superior tensile and impact properties. VTMO treatment showed superior flexural properties and less influence on the impact properties after moisture absorption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
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Open AccessArticle Experimental and Statistical Evaluation of the Size Effect on the Bending Strength of Dimension Lumber of Northeast China Larch
Materials 2016, 9(2), 89; doi:10.3390/ma9020089
Received: 8 December 2015 / Revised: 13 January 2016 / Accepted: 20 January 2016 / Published: 30 January 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1581 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study investigated the size effect on the bending strength (modulus of rupture—MOR) of dimension lumber of Northeast China larch (Larix gmelinii); providing a basis for the further application in light wood frame construction. Experimental and statistical evaluations were conducted on
[...] Read more.
This study investigated the size effect on the bending strength (modulus of rupture—MOR) of dimension lumber of Northeast China larch (Larix gmelinii); providing a basis for the further application in light wood frame construction. Experimental and statistical evaluations were conducted on the bending strength. A total of 2409 full-size dimension lumber samples were tested by static bending tests; which included three different sizes: 2 × 3; 2 × 4; and 2 × 6. Results indicate that the size has a significant effect on the MOR. Both the chi-square (χ2) and Kolmogorov-Smirnov (K-S) test results show that the lognormal distribution generally fits to the MOR better than to the normal distribution. Additionally; the effects of partial safety factor (γR) and live-to-dead load ratio (ρ) were studied by reliability analysis. Reliability analysis results indicate that the reliability index increases nonlinearly with the decrease of γR and the rise of ρ. Finally; the design value of bending strength and its adjusting factor of size effect of 2 × 3; 2 × 4; and 2 × 6 larch dimension lumber were obtained according to the Chinese National Standards’ requirements of the reliability index. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Scalable Fabrication of Natural-Fiber Reinforced Composites with Electromagnetic Interference Shielding Properties by Incorporating Powdered Activated Carbon
Materials 2016, 9(1), 10; doi:10.3390/ma9010010
Received: 17 November 2015 / Revised: 18 December 2015 / Accepted: 18 December 2015 / Published: 25 December 2015
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Kenaf fiber—polyester composites incorporated with powdered activated carbon (PAC) were prepared using the vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) process. The product demonstrates the electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding function. The kenaf fibers were retted in a pressured reactor to remove the lignin and extractives
[...] Read more.
Kenaf fiber—polyester composites incorporated with powdered activated carbon (PAC) were prepared using the vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) process. The product demonstrates the electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding function. The kenaf fibers were retted in a pressured reactor to remove the lignin and extractives in the fiber. The PAC was loaded into the freshly retted fibers in water. The PAC loading effectiveness was determined using the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) specific surface area analysis. A higher BET value was obtained with a higher PAC loading. The transmission energies of the composites were measured by exposing the samples to the irradiation of electromagnetic waves with a variable frequency from 8 GHz to 12 GHz. As the PAC content increased from 0% to 10.0%, 20.5% and 28.9%, the EMI shielding effectiveness increased from 41.4% to 76.0%, 87.9% and 93.0%, respectively. Additionally, the EMI absorption increased from 21.2% to 31.7%, 44.7% and 64.0%, respectively. The ratio of EMI absorption/shielding of the composite at 28.9% of PAC loading was increased significantly by 37.1% as compared with the control sample. It was indicated that the incorporation of PAC into the composites was very effective for absorbing electromagnetic waves, which resulted in a decrease in secondary electromagnetic pollution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
Open AccessArticle Effect of Hybrid Talc-Basalt Fillers in the Shell Layer on Thermal and Mechanical Performance of Co-Extruded Wood Plastic Composites
Materials 2015, 8(12), 8510-8523; doi:10.3390/ma8125473
Received: 2 October 2015 / Revised: 29 November 2015 / Accepted: 1 December 2015 / Published: 8 December 2015
PDF Full-text (3187 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Hybrid basalt fiber (BF) and Talc filled high density polyethylene (HDPE) and co-extruded wood-plastic composites (WPCs) with different BF/Talc/HDPE composition levels in the shell were prepared and their mechanical, morphological and thermal properties were characterized. Incorporating BFs into the HDPE-Talc composite substantially enhanced
[...] Read more.
Hybrid basalt fiber (BF) and Talc filled high density polyethylene (HDPE) and co-extruded wood-plastic composites (WPCs) with different BF/Talc/HDPE composition levels in the shell were prepared and their mechanical, morphological and thermal properties were characterized. Incorporating BFs into the HDPE-Talc composite substantially enhanced the thermal expansion property, flexural, tensile and dynamic modulus without causing a significant decrease in the tensile and impact strength of the composites. Strain energy estimation suggested positive and better interfacial interactions of HDPE with BFs than that with talc. The co-extruded structure design improved the mechanical properties of WPC due to the protective shell layer. The composite flexural and impact strength properties increased, and the thermal expansion decreased as BF content increased in the hybrid BF/Talc filled shells. The cone calorimetry data demonstrated that flame resistance of co-extruded WPCs was improved with the use of combined fillers in the shell layer, especially with increased loading of BFs. The combined shell filler system with BFs and Talc could offer a balance between cost and performance for co-extruded WPCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessFeature PaperReview A Review on Grafting of Biofibers for Biocomposites
Materials 2016, 9(4), 303; doi:10.3390/ma9040303
Received: 14 March 2016 / Revised: 14 April 2016 / Accepted: 18 April 2016 / Published: 22 April 2016
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (2078 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A recent increase in the use of biofibers as low-cost and renewable reinforcement for the polymer biocomposites has been seen globally. Biofibers are classified into: lignocellulosic fibers (i.e., cellulose, wood and natural fibers), nanocellulose (i.e., cellulose nanocrystals and cellulose
[...] Read more.
A recent increase in the use of biofibers as low-cost and renewable reinforcement for the polymer biocomposites has been seen globally. Biofibers are classified into: lignocellulosic fibers (i.e., cellulose, wood and natural fibers), nanocellulose (i.e., cellulose nanocrystals and cellulose nanofibrils), and bacterial cellulose, while polymer matrix materials can be petroleum based or bio-based. Green biocomposites can be produced using both biobased fibers and polymers. Incompatibility between the hydrophilic biofibers and hydrophobic polymer matrix can cause performance failure of resulting biocomposites. Diverse efforts have focused on the modification of biofibers in order to improve the performances of biocomposites. “Grafting” copolymerization strategy can render the advantages of biofiber and impart polymer properties onto it and the performance of biocomposites can be tuned through changing grafting parameters. This review presents a short overview of various “grafting” methods which can be directly or potentially employed to enhance the interaction between biofibers and a polymer matrix for biocomposites. Major grafting techniques, including ring opening polymerization, grafting via coupling agent and free radical induced grafting, have been discussed. Improved properties such as mechanical, thermal, and water resistance have provided grafted biocomposites with new opportunities for applications in specific industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bio- and Natural-Fiber Composites)
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