Plant Fibers II

A special issue of Fibers (ISSN 2079-6439).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2023) | Viewed by 11837

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
School of Science and Technology, University of Camerino, 62032 Camerino, Italy
Interests: mechanical properties; damage; composite laminates; low speed; defects; infrared photography; natural fibers; acoustic emission; infrared thermography
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Plant fibers are widely available from many species, and their taxonomy is continuously being extended, to spontaneous and not only cropped species, even, in some cases, arising from different parts of the same plant, such as leaves, fruits, and stems. Their increasing profile and extent of application in composites, both polymer-based and, recently, also ceramic-based, and nanocomposites is currently linked to a number of issues and developments of significant interest in the field of sustainability. This is related, in particular, to the possibility of using agro-industrial waste to extract fibers and the need to replace materials with less favorable ends of life, such as fiberglass. In the latter case, the prospected use of biopolymers as the matrix for the introduction of plant fibers would extend the potential of these materials.

To qualify plant fibers for use in composites and nanocomposites, it is essential to characterize them (mechanically, thermally, chemically, etc.) and, once they are inserted in the composite, to be able to compare their properties with those of competing (e.g., synthetic) materials. In addition, research is also focusing on studies comparing their respective carbon footprints, for example, as concerns life cycle analysis (LCA).

This issue therefore concerns, but is not limited to:

  • Studies on ligno-cellulosic fibers (from stems, leaves, fruits and seed hairs);
  • Studies of the extraction of lignin, cellulose or nanocellulose/nanolignin from plant fibers and relevant by-products (e.g., husk);
  • Studies on plant fiber composites and hybrids (including different plant fibers or plant and other fibers);
  • Studies on plant fibers from agro-industrial waste;
  • Studies on the use of industrial and expressly synthesized biopolymers in plant fiber composites;
  • Reviews on different plant fibers and plant fiber composites with different matrices.

Dr. Carlo Santulli
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • production of plant fiber composites
  • fiber treatment
  • mechanical properties of plant fiber composites
  • impact properties of plant fiber composites
  • use of fibers from agro-waste
  • fiber extraction
  • thermal characterization of plant fibers

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 5323 KiB  
Article
Extraction and Physico-Chemical Characterization of Pineapple Crown Leaf Fibers (PCLF)
by Vivek Johny, Ajith Kuriakose Mani, Sivasubramanian Palanisamy, Visakh Kunnathuparambil Rajan, Murugesan Palaniappan and Carlo Santulli
Fibers 2023, 11(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib11010005 - 06 Jan 2023
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4378
Abstract
Apart from the widely discussed pineapple leaf fibers, normally referred to as PALF, fibers from other parts of the plant also exist, particularly those in the fruit crown, which are known as pineapple crown leaf fibers (PCLF). In this work, PCLF were characterized [...] Read more.
Apart from the widely discussed pineapple leaf fibers, normally referred to as PALF, fibers from other parts of the plant also exist, particularly those in the fruit crown, which are known as pineapple crown leaf fibers (PCLF). In this work, PCLF were characterized using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), Fourier transform IR spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The results indicated that the properties of PCLF do not greatly differ from those observed for PALF. In particular, a cellulose content of over 67% was observed, with approximately 76% crystallinity. The main degradation phenomena of the fibers took place between 230 and 380 °C, peaking at 324 °C, which is in line with observations in other fibers which have similar cellulose and crystalline contents. There was 13.4% residue at 680 °C. Bare mechanical retting of PCLF, although not allowing a full and thorough degumming, which would only be achieved through more aggressive chemical treatment, enabled aspect ratios of over 103 to be obtained. This indicates some potential for their application as short fibers in composites. In this respect, the considerable roughness of PCLF when compared to other leaf-extracted fibers, and in particular when compared to PALF, could suggest an ability to obtain a sufficiently sound fiber–matrix interface. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Fibers II)
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25 pages, 8237 KiB  
Article
Suitability of Surface-Treated Flax and Hemp Fibers for Concrete Reinforcement
by Ana Caroline da Costa Santos and Paul Archbold
Fibers 2022, 10(11), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib10110101 - 17 Nov 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2475
Abstract
The use of vegetable fibres as a sustainable alternative to non-natural sources of fibres applied for concrete reinforcement has been studied for over three decades. The main issues about plant-based fibres pointed out by other authors are the variability in their properties and [...] Read more.
The use of vegetable fibres as a sustainable alternative to non-natural sources of fibres applied for concrete reinforcement has been studied for over three decades. The main issues about plant-based fibres pointed out by other authors are the variability in their properties and concerns about potential high biodegradability in the alkaline pH of the concrete matrix. Aiming to minimise the variability of flax and hemp fibres, this research compares a range of chemical surface treatments, analysing their effects on the behaviour of the fibres and the effects of their addition to concrete. Corroborating what has been found by other authors, the treatment using NaOH 10% for 24 h was able to enhance the properties of hemp fibre-reinforced concrete and reduce the degradability in alkaline solution. For flax fibres, a novel alternative stood out: treatment using 1% of stearic acid in ethanol for 4 h. Treatment using this solution increased the tensile by 101%, causing a minor effect on the elastic modulus. Concrete mixes reinforced with the treated flax fibres presented reduced thermal conductivity and elastic modulus and increased residual tensile strength and fracture energy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Fibers II)
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13 pages, 3055 KiB  
Article
Mercerization of Agricultural Waste: Sweet Clover, Buckwheat, and Rapeseed Straws
by Madara Žiganova, Agnese Ābele, Zanda Iesalniece and Remo Merijs Meri
Fibers 2022, 10(10), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib10100083 - 28 Sep 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1839
Abstract
This research presents the alkali treatment effect on three types of agricultural residues: sweet clover (SCS), buckwheat (BS), and rapeseed straws (RS). The aim of the study was to find the optimal treatment conditions for each straw type, and to assess the potential [...] Read more.
This research presents the alkali treatment effect on three types of agricultural residues: sweet clover (SCS), buckwheat (BS), and rapeseed straws (RS). The aim of the study was to find the optimal treatment conditions for each straw type, and to assess the potential of sweet clover straw as reinforcement for polymer composites in comparison to buckwheat and rapeseed. The straws were ground and treated for 15, 30, and 60 min using NaOH at concentrations of 2, 5, and 10%. To investigate the treatment results on the SCS, BS, and RS fibers, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, optical microscope, X-ray diffraction, and thermogravimetric analysis were used. Results indicate that the optimal room-temperature alkaline-treatment conditions of SCS fibers were the same as those for RS treated with 2% NaOH solution for 30 min. These conditions were milder in comparison to those used for the treatment of BS: 60 min in a 5% NaOH solution. During the treatment, noncellulosic substances were largely removed, and the aspect ratio of the fibers was increased, and the destruction temperature, crystallinity, and morphology were also affected. Consequently, SCS has promising potential for use in polymer composites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Fibers II)
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14 pages, 6240 KiB  
Article
Effect of Alkali Treatment on the Properties of Acacia Caesia Bark Fibres
by Palanisamy Sivasubramanian, Mayandi Kalimuthu, Murugesan Palaniappan, Azeez Alavudeen, Nagarajan Rajini and Carlo Santulli
Fibers 2021, 9(8), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib9080049 - 02 Aug 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 3152
Abstract
As possible substitutes for non-biodegradable synthetic fibre, ligno-cellulosic fibres have attracted much interest for their eco-friendliness; a large number of them are already used for the production of green polymer composites. The search for further green candidates brings into focus other fibres not [...] Read more.
As possible substitutes for non-biodegradable synthetic fibre, ligno-cellulosic fibres have attracted much interest for their eco-friendliness; a large number of them are already used for the production of green polymer composites. The search for further green candidates brings into focus other fibres not previously considered, yet part of other production systems, therefore available as by-products or refuse. The purpose of this study is to explore the potential of alkali treatment with 5% sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to enhance the properties of bark-extracted Acacia Caesia Bark (ACB) fibres. The microscopic structure of the treated fibres was elucidated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Moreover, the fibres were characterised in terms of chemical composition and density and subjected to single-fibre tensile tests (SFTT). Following their physico-chemical characterisation, fibre samples underwent thermal characterisation by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and their crystallinity was assessed using X-ray diffraction (XRD). This level of alkali treatment only marginally modified the structure of the fibres and offered some improvement in their tensile strength. This suggested that they compare well with other bark fibres and that their thermal profile showed some increase of degradation onset temperature with respect to untreated ACB fibres. Their crystallinity would allow their application in the form of fibres with an average length of approximately 150 mm, even in thermoplastic biocomposites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Fibers II)
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Review

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19 pages, 2715 KiB  
Review
Physical, Chemical, and Mechanical Characterization of Natural Bark Fibers (NBFs) Reinforced Polymer Composites: A Bibliographic Review
by Sivasubramanian Palanisamy, Mayandi Kalimuthu, Rajini Nagarajan, José Maria Fernandes Marlet and Carlo Santulli
Fibers 2023, 11(2), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib11020013 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2771
Abstract
The specific interest for the use of bark in materials, instead than for energy recovery, is owed to circular economy considerations, since bark fibers are normally byproducts or even waste from other sectors, and therefore their use would globally reduce the amount of [...] Read more.
The specific interest for the use of bark in materials, instead than for energy recovery, is owed to circular economy considerations, since bark fibers are normally byproducts or even waste from other sectors, and therefore their use would globally reduce the amount of refuse by replacing other materials in the production of composites. For the purpose of promoting their application in polymer composites, mainly under a geometry of short random fibers, bark fibers are extracted and treated, normally chemically by alkali. Following this, investigations are increasingly carried out on their chemical composition. More specifically, this includes measuring cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin content and their modification with treatment on their thermal properties and degradation profile, and on the mechanical performance of the fibers and of the tentatively obtained composites. This work aims at reviewing the current state of studies, trying to elicit which bark fibers might be most promising among the potentially enormous number of these, clarifying which of these have received some attention in literature and trying to elicit the reason for this specific interest. These can be more thoroughly characterized for the purpose of further use, also in competition with other fibers not from bark, but from bast, leaves, etc., and pertaining to developed production systems (cotton, hemp, flax, jute, etc.). The latter are already widely employed in the production of composites, a possibility scantly explored so far for bark fibers. However, some initial works on bark fiber composites and both thermoplastic and thermosetting are indicated and the importance of some parameters (aspect ratio, chemical treatment) is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Fibers II)
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