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Tensile testing of cellulose based natural fibers for structural composite applications

Symington, Mark C. and Banks, W.M. and Opukuro, David West and Pethrick, R.A. (2009) Tensile testing of cellulose based natural fibers for structural composite applications. Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, 43 (9). pp. 1083-1108. ISSN 1359-835X

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A series of tensile tests were conducted on a Lloyd LRX tensile testing machine for numerous natural fibers deemed potential candidates for development in composite applications. The tensile tests were conducted on the fibers jute, kenaf, flax, abaca, sisal, hemp, and coir for samples exposed to moisture conditions of (1) room temperature and humidity, (2) 65% moisture content, (3) 90% moisture content, and (4) soaked fiber. These seven fibers were then tested for the four conditions and the mechanical properties of tensile strength, tensile strain to failure, and Young's modulus were calculated for the results. These results were then compared and verified with those from the literature, with some of the fibers showing distinctly promising potential. Additionally, a study on the effect of alkalization using 3% NaOH solution was carried out on flax, kenaf, abaca, and sisal to observe impact that this common fiber pre-treatment process has on fiber mechanical properties. The result of the investigation indicated that over treatment of natural fibers using NaOH could have a negative effect on the base fiber properties. It is consequently apparent that a treatment time of less than 10 min is sufficient to remove hemicelluloses and to give the optimum effect.