, Volume 7, Issue 5-6, pp 421-432

Composites from Natural Fibers and Soy Oil Resins

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Abstract

The goal of this project is to develop new composites using fibers and resins from renewable resources. The ACRES (Affordable Composites from Renewable Sources) group at the University of Delaware has developed new chemistries to synthesize rigid polymers from plant oils. The resins produced contain at least 50% plant triglycerides and have mechanical properties comparable to commercially available synthetic resins such as vinyl esters, polyesters and epoxies. This project explores the development of all-natural composites by using natural fibers such as hemp and flax as reinforcements in the ACRES resins. Replacing synthetic fibers with natural fibers has both environmental and economic advantages. Unlike carbon and glass fibers, natural fibers are abundantly available from renewable resources. In terms of cost, natural fibers are cheaper than the synthetic alternatives. The natural fibers and plant-based resins have been shown to combine to produce a low cost composite with good mechanical properties. Tensile strength in the 30 MPa range has been obtained for a composite containing about 30 wt% Durafibre Grade 2 flax. The tensile modulus was found to be 4.7 GPa for a 40 wt% flax composite. Similar numbers where obtained for the hemp composites obtained from Hemcore Inc. Composites from renewable resources offer significant potential for new high volume, low cost applications.