, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 139-149

Sustainable Cellular Biocomposites from Natural Fibers and Unsaturated Polyester Resin for Housing Panel Applications

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Increased environmental awareness and interest in long-term sustainability of material resources has motivated considerable advancements in composite materials made from natural fibers and resins, or biocomposites. In spite of these developments the lower stiffness and strength of biocomposites has limited their applications to non-load-bearing components. This paper presents an overview of a study aimed at showing that the shortcomings of biocomposites can be overcome through hybrid material designs and efficient structural configurations to make them suitable for load bearing structural components. Hybrid blends of natural and synthetic fibers can significantly improve the characteristics of biocomposites with minimal cost and environmental impact, and hierarchical cellular designs can maximize material efficiency in structural components. Periodic and hierarchical cellular plate designs made from natural fibers and unsaturated polyester resin were evaluated experimentally and analytically. Stiffness, strength, and dimensional stability of all-biocomposite and hybrid natural–synthetic material systems were evaluated through material tests while structural performance of cellular plate designs was assessed through flexural tests on laboratory-scale samples. The experimental results were correlated with analytical models for short-fiber composites and cellular structures. The results showed that biocomposites have adequate short-term performance and that they can efficiently compete with housing panels made from conventional structural materials.