This work focused on the durability of short jute fiber reinforced poly(lactic acid) (PLA) composites in distilled water at different temperatures (23, 37.8 and 60 °C). Morphological, thermal and mechanical properties (tensile, flexural, and impact) of jute/PLA composites were investigated before and after aging. Different from traditional synthetic fiber reinforced polymer composites, the stability of jute/PLA composites in water was significantly influenced by hydrothermal temperature. The mechanical properties of the composites and molecular weight of PLA matrix declined quickly at 60 °C, however, this process was quite slower at temperatures of 23 and 37.8 °C. Impact properties of the composites were hardly decreased, but the tensile and flexural properties suffered a drop though to various degrees with three degradation stages at 23 and 37.8 °C. The poor interface of composites and the degradation of PLA matrix were the main damage mechanism induced by hydrothermal aging. Furthermore, considering the hydrolysis of PLA matrix, the cleavage of PLA molecular chain in different aging time was quantitatively investigated for the first time to illustrate hydrolysis degree of PLA matrix at different aging time.
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This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Project) (Grant numbers 2010CB631105), the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant numbers 51103108 and 11172212), State Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of Polymers and State Key Laboratory for Strength and Vibration of Mechanical Structures (SV2017-KF-16).