, Volume 10, Issue 1-2, pp 19-26

Sustainable Bio-Composites from Renewable Resources: Opportunities and Challenges in the Green Materials World

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Abstract

Sustainability, industrial ecology, eco-efficiency, and green chemistry are guiding the development of the next generation of materials, products, and processes. Biodegradable plastics and bio-based polymer products based on annually renewable agricultural and biomass feedstock can form the basis for a portfolio of sustainable, eco-efficient products that can compete and capture markets currently dominated by products based exclusively on petroleum feedstock. Natural/Biofiber composites (Bio-Composites) are emerging as a viable alternative to glass fiber reinforced composites especially in automotive and building product applications. The combination of biofibers such as kenaf, hemp, flax, jute, henequen, pineapple leaf fiber, and sisal with polymer matrices from both nonrenewable and renewable resources to produce composite materials that are competitive with synthetic composites requires special attention, i.e., biofiber–matrix interface and novel processing. Natural fiber–reinforced polypropylene composites have attained commercial attraction in automotive industries. Natural fiber—polypropylene or natural fiber—polyester composites are not sufficiently eco-friendly because of the petroleum-based source and the nonbiodegradable nature of the polymer matrix. Using natural fibers with polymers based on renewable resources will allow many environmental issues to be solved. By embedding biofibers with renewable resource–based biopolymers such as cellulosic plastics; polylactides; starch plastics; polyhydroxyalkanoates (bacterial polyesters); and soy-based plastics, the so-called green bio-composites are continuously being developed.