Thermo-Mechanical and Morphological Properties of Water Hyacinth Reinforced Polypropylene Composites
This paper focusses on the analysis of thermo-mechanical and morphological properties of water hyacinth (WH) fiber reinforced polypropylene (PP) biocomposites manufactured by using a single screw extruder and an injection molding machine. With a view to increasing the compatibility between the WH fibers and polypropylene matrix, raw WH fibers were chemically treated with Benzenediazonium salt in base media. Composites were manufactured with five different levels of loading (15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 wt%) of both the raw and treated WH fibers. Thermal properties of WH-PP composites were evaluated by thermogravimetric and differential thermal analyses. To analyze mechanical properties of composites, tests of tensile strength and stiffness, flexural strength and stiffness, and Charpy impact strength were carried out following ASTM standards. It was found that thermal stability and all the mechanical properties except tensile strength were improved considerably for chemically treated WH fiber composites in comparison with untreated ones. Fracture surfaces of the tensile and flexural specimens were scanned with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to understand their surface morphologies. The SEM images clearly revealed that there were fewer fiber agglomerations, microvoids, and fiber pull out traces in treated WH-PP composites than in the untreated ones indicating better distribution of the fibers into the matrix as well as stronger fiber matrix interfacial adhesion due to treatment of WH fibers. Water absorption properties were studied to evaluate the viability of these biocomposites under specified conditions.
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