Journal of Wood Science

, Volume 64, Issue 5, pp 650–663 | Cite as

Characterization of raffia palm fiber for use in polymer composites

  • Opeoluwa FadeleEmail author
  • Ikechukwuka N. A. Oguocha
  • Akindele Odeshi
  • Majid Soleimani
  • Chithra Karunakaran
Original Article


Raffia palm fibers are potential reinforcement materials for making cost-effective polymer-based composite. This paper presents the results obtained from a study of physical, chemical, thermal and mechanical properties of raffia palm fibers (RPFs) derived from the raffia palm tree (Raphia farinifera). The as-received RPFs had their remnant binders manually removed and was subsequently cleaned in a 2% detergent solution before drying in an air oven at 70 °C for 24 h. Evaluation of the properties of the dried samples was carried out using a combination of characterization techniques including chemical composition determination, density measurement, moisture adsorption and water absorption measurements, tensile testing, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffractometry, and Fourier transform infrared spectromicroscopy. The main constituents of RPFs were found to be cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The average diameter and average density were 1.53 ± 0.29 mm and 1.50 ± 0.01 g/cm3, respectively. The average breaking strength of the fibers ranged from 152 ± 22 to 270 ± 39 MPa; it did not vary significantly with fiber length and cross-head speed during tensile testing. The results of scanning electron microscopic investigation of the fibers showed that they comprise several elemental fibers which are tightly packed together with each having its own lumen. Synchrotron-based Fourier-transform infrared spectromicroscopy of a cross-section of the fiber showed that lignin is concentrated mostly on the outside while cellulose and pectin are concentrated in the mid-section. A two-stage water sorption behavior was observed for the fibers.


Raffia palm fiber Mechanical properties Thermal properties Synchrotron Infrared spectroscopy 



Part of the research described in this paper was performed at the Canadian Light Source, which is supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the National Research Council Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. We acknowledge Mr. Jarvis Stobbs and Dr. Na Liu from the Canadian Light Source for their support in sample preparation for the FTIRS and training for data collection, respectively. We also acknowledge Dr. L. Tabil for the use of his tensile testing machine and gas pycnometer.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Santhosh J, Balanarasimman N, Chandrasekar R, Raja S (2014) Study of properties of banana fiber reinforced composites. Int J Res Eng Technol 3:144–150Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thiruchitrambalam M, Athijayamani A, Sathiyamurthy S, Thaheer ASA (2010) A review on the natural fiber-reinforced polymer composites for the development of roselle fiber-reinforced polyester composite. J Nat Fibers 7:307–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Elenga RG, Dirras GF, Goma MJ, Djemia P, Biget MP (2009) On the microstructure and physical properties of untreated raffia textilis fiber. Compos Part A Appl Sci Manuf 40:418–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Mohammed L, Ansari MNM, Pua G, Jawaid M, Islam MS (2015) A review on natural fiber reinforced polymer composite and its applications. Int J Polym Sci. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chinga-carrasco G, Aslan M, Sørensen BF, Madsen B (2011) Strength variability of single flax fibres. J Mater Sci 46:6344–6354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Li X, Panigrahi S, Tabil LG (2009) A study on flax fiber-reinforced polyethylene biocomposites. Appl Eng Agric 25:525–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Silva F, de A, Chawla, N, Filho RD de T (2008) Tensile behavior of high performance natural (sisal) fibers. Compos Sci Technol 68:3438–3443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Li Y, Mai Y-W, Ye L (2000) Sisal fibre and its composites: a review of recent developments. Compos Sci Technol 60:2037–2055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bledzki AK, Gassan J (1999) Composites reinforced with cellulose based fibers. Prog Polym Sci 24:221–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cai M, Takagi H, Nakagaito AN, Katoh M, Ueki T, Waterhouse GIN, Li Y (2015) Influence of alkali treatment on internal microstructure and tensile properties of abaca fibers. Ind Crops Prod 65:27–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Faruk O, Bledzki AK, Fink HP, Sain M (2012) Biocomposites reinforced with natural fibers: 2000–2010. Prog Polym Sci 37:1552–1596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Punyamurthy R, Sampathkumar D, Bennehalli B, Patel R, Venkateshappa SC (2014) Abaca fiber reinforced epoxy composites: evaluation of impact strength. Int J Sci Basic Appl Res 18:305–317Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pujari S, Ramakrishna A, Kumar MS (2014) Comparison of jute and banana fiber composites: a review. Int J Curr Eng Technol Special Issue 2:121–126. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ronald Aseer J, Sankaranarayanasamy K, Jayabalan P, Natarajan R, Dasan KP (2013) Morphological, physical, and thermal properties of chemically treated banana fiber. J Nat Fibers 10:365–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mathura N, Cree D (2016) Characterization and mechanical property of Trinidad coir fibers. J Appl Polym Sci 133:43692. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mir SS, Hasan M, Hasan SMN, Hossain MJ, Nafsin N (2015) Effect of chemical treatment on the properties of coir fiber reinforced polypropylene and polyethylene composites. Polym Compos 38:1259–1265Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Arib RMN, Sapuana SM, Ahmada MMHM, Paridah MT, Khairul Zamanc HMD (2006) Mechanical properties of pineapple leaf fibre reinforced polypropylene composites. Mater Des 27:391–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zhang Y, Wen B, Cao L, Li X, Zhang J (2015) Preparation and properties of unmodified ramie fiber reinforced polypropylene composites. J Wuhan Univ Technol Sci Ed 30:198–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sandy M, Bacon L (2001) Tensile testing of raffia. J Mater Sci Lett 20:529–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kocak D, Merdan N, Evren OB (2015) Research into the specifications of woven composites obtained from raffia fibers pretreated using the ecological method. Text Res J 85:302–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Elenga RG, Dirras GF, Maniongui JG, Mabiala B (2011) Thin-layer drying of Raffia textilis fiber. BioResources 6:4135–4144Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Odera RS, Onukwuli OD, Atuanya CU (2015) Characterization of the Thermo-microstructural analysis of raffia palm fibers proposed for roofing sheet production. J Miner Mater Charact Eng 3:335–343Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Soleimani M, Tabil L, Panigrahi S, Opoku A (2008) The effect of fiber pretreatment and compatibilizer on mechanical and physical properties of flax fiber-polypropylene composites. J Polym Environ 16:74–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Jin W, Singh K, Zondlo J (2013) Pyrolysis kinetics of physical components of wood and wood-polymers using isoconversion method. Agriculture 3:12–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ankom Technology (2000) Acid detergent fiber in feeds—filter bag technique. Method 5:6–7Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ankom Technology (2011) Neutral detergent fiber in feeds—filter bag technique. Method 6:10–11Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Ankom Technology (2013) Determining acid detergent lignin in beakers. Method 8:11–12Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    ASTM D3822/D3822M-14 (2014) Standard test method for tensile properties of single textile fibers. ASTM InternationalGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Segal L, Creely JJ, Martin AE, Conrad CM (1959) An empirical method for estimating the degree of crystallinity of native cellulose using the X-ray diffractometer. Text Res J 29:786–794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Sathitsuksanoh N, Zhu Z, Wi S, Percival Zhang YH (2011) Cellulose solvent-based biomass pretreatment breaks highly ordered hydrogen bonds in cellulose fibers of switchgrass. Biotechnol Bioeng 108:521–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Du R, Su R, Qi W, He Z (2018) Enhanced enzymatic hydrolysis of corncob by ultrasound-assisted soaking in aqueous ammonia pretreatment. Biotech 8:1–7Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Turunen MJ, Saarakkala S, Rieppo L, Helminen HJ, Jurvelin JS, Isaksson H (2011) Comparison between infrared and raman spectroscopic analysis of maturing rabbit cortical bone. Appl Spectrosc 65:595–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Schrader B (2007) Infrared and raman spectroscopy: methods and applications. VCH Publ Inc, New York. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tran LQN, Nguyen Minh T, Fuentes CA, Truong Chi T, Van Vuure AW, Verpoest I (2015) Investigation of microstructure and tensile properties of porous natural coir fibre for use in composite materials. Ind Crops Prod 65:437–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Alves Fidelis ME, Pereira TVC, Gomes ODFM, De Andrade Silva F, Toledo Filho RD (2013) The effect of fiber morphology on the tensile strength of natural fibers. J Mater Res Technol 2:149–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Wang F, Shao J, Keer LM, Li L, Zhang J (2015) The effect of elementary fibre variability on bamboo fibre strength. Mater Des 75:136–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Eichhorn SJ, Hughes M, Snell R, Mott L (2000) Stress induced shifts in the Raman spectra of natural cellulose fibers. J Mater Sci Lett 19:721–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Mukherjee PS, Satyanarayana KG (1984) Structure and properties of some vegetable fibres. J Mater Sci 19:3925–3934CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Tomczak F, Satyanarayana KG, Sydenstricker THD (2007) Studies on lignocellulosic fibers of Brazil: Part III—morphology and properties of Brazilian curaua fibers. Compos Part A Appl Sci Manuf 38:2227–2236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Fangueiro R, Rana S (2015) Natural fibres: advances in science and technology towards industrial applications. Springer Nat 12:37–43Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Espert A, Vilaplana F, Karlsson S (2004) Comparison of water absorption in natural cellulosic fibres from wood and one-year crops in polypropylene composites and its influence on their mechanical properties. Compos Part A Appl Sci Manuf 35:1267–1276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mat-Shayuti MS, Abdullah MZ, Megat-Yusoff PS (2013) Water absorption properties and morphology of polypropylene/polycarbonate/polypropylene-graft-maleic anhydride blends. Asian J Sci Res 6:167–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Jacob M, Varughese KT, Thomas S (2005) Water sorption studies of hybrid biofiber-reinforced natural rubber biocomposites. Biomacromol 6:2969–2979CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Kannan R, Anand AV, Hariprasad V, Sing RA, Jayalakshmi S, Arumugam V (2017) Effect of cashew nut shell oil (Cardanol) on water absorption and mechanical characteristics of sisal fibers. In : Proceedings of the International Conference on Recent Innovations in Production Engineering, Chennai, India. ISBN:978-93-86256-65-2Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Sampathkumar D, Punyamurth R, Venkateshappa SC (2012) Effect of chemical treatment on water absorption of areca fiber. J Appl Sci Res 8:5298–5305Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Mwaikambo LY, Ansell MP (2002) Chemical modification of hemp, sisal, jute, and kapok fibers by alkalization. J Appl Polym Sci 84:2222–2234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Yu P (2005) Molecular chemistry imaging to reveal structural features of various plant feed tissues. J Struct Biol 150:81–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Yu P, McKinnon JJ, Christensen CR, Christensen DA (2004) Imaging molecular chemistry of pioneer corn. J Agric Food Chem 52:7345–7352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Edwards HG, Farwell DW, Webster D (1997) FT Raman microscopy of untreated natural plant fibres. Spectrochim acta Part A 53:2383–2392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Ouajai S, Shanks RA (2005) Composition, structure and thermal degradation of hemp cellulose after chemical treatments. Polym Degrad Stab 89:327–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Tibolla H, Pelissari FM, Menegalli FC (2014) Cellulose nanofibers produced from banana peel by chemical and enzymatic treatment. LWT Food Sci Technol 59:1311–1318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Gierlinger N, Schwanninger M, Reinecke A, Burgert I (2006) Molecular changes during tensile deformation of single wood fibers followed by Raman microscopy. Biomacromol 7:2077–2081CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Udoetok IA, Wilson LD, Headley JV (2016) Quaternized cellulose hydrogels as sorbent materials and pickering emulsion stabilizing agents. Materials (Basel) 9:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Jähn A, Schröder MW, Füting M, Schenzel K, Diepenbrock W (2002) Characterization of alkali treated flax fibres by means of FT Raman spectroscopy and environmental scanning electron microscopy. Spectrochim Acta Part A 58:2271–2279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Himmelsbach DS, Akin DE (1998) Near-infrared Fourier-transform Raman spectroscopy of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) stems. J Agric Food Chem 46:991–998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Aziz SH, Ansell MP (2004) The effect of alkalization and fibre alignment on the mechanical and thermal properties of kenaf and hemp bast fibre composites: Part 1 – polyester resin matrix. Composit Sci Technol 64:1219–1230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Basak RK, Saha SG, Sarkar AK, Saha M, Das NN, Mukherjee AK (1993) Thermal properties of jute constituents and flame retardant jute fabrics. Text Res J 63:658–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Hao A (2013) Mechanical and thermal properties of kenaf polypropylene nonwoven composites. Ph.D. Thesis; Univ Texas, Texas, USA, pp 19–30Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Oliveira AKF, d’Almeida JRM (2014) Characterization of ubuçu (Manicaria saccifera) natural fiber mat. Polym Renew Resour 5:13–28Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japan Wood Research Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of EngineeringUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological Engineering, College of EngineeringUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.Canadian Light Source Inc.SaskatoonCanada

Personalised recommendations