Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 53, Issue 9, pp 6542–6551 | Cite as

Toughness and crystallization enhancement in wood fiber-reinforced polypropylene composite through controlling matrix nucleation

  • Lang Huang
  • Qiong Wu
  • Shujun Li
  • Rongxian Ou
  • Qingwen WangEmail author


Wood fiber/polypropylene (WF/PP) composites are commonly used to efficiently utilize natural resources and reduce environmental problems, but the low impact toughness has been a major disadvantage of this composite. Most studies are focused on fiber modification or adding coupling agents to overcome this problem, but few of them paid attention to the microstructure of the matrix and its effect on the interface adhesion. Isotactic polypropylene (PP) is polymorphic with different morphological forms: α-, β- and γ-forms. α-PP is predominated form, while β-PP has received considerable attention due to its promising toughness behavior. This study investigated the effect of adding a highly active β-nucleating agent (TMB) for PP on the mechanical and crystallization properties of PP/WF composite. Specifically, the impact strength, the nucleating effect, content of β-crystal, non-isothermal crystallization behavior and mechanical properties of the composite were investigated. Results showed that the content of the β-form crystal of nucleated PP (K value) reached 87% with the addition of 0.3 wt% TMB. Composites with TMB increased the crystallization peak temperature, accelerated the crystallization process and improved its impact strength by 53.12% with the addition of 0.3 wt% TMB nucleating agent, though tensile and flexural properties were dropped by about 10–20%. Also, the spherulite size of nucleated PP in the composite was dramatically decreased.



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31600459, 31700517), Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation, China (ZR2017BC100) and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017M622155).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Materials and EnergySouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.College of Chemical EngineeringQingdao University of Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.Composite Materials and Engineering CenterWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Bio-based Material Science and Technology (Ministry of Education)Northeast Forestry UniversityHarbinChina

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