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Chopped Industrial Hemp Fiber Reinforced Cellulosic Plastic Biocomposites:  Thermomechanical and Morphological Properties

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Composite Materials and Structures Center, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, 2100 Engineering Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1226, and The School of Packaging, 130 Packaging Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824
Cite this: Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2004, 43, 16, 4883–4888
Publication Date (Web):June 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 American Chemical Society

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    Biocomposites, i.e., biopolymers reinforced with natural fibers, offer an environmentally benign alternative structural material for automotive applications. Cellulose esters (bioplastic made from cellulose) are potentially useful biosourced polymers. By embedding inexpensive plant-based cellulosic fibers (chopped hemp fiber) into a biopolymeric matrix (cellulose ester) novel biocomposites have been made utilizing two different processing approaches:  powder impregnation (process I) and extrusion followed by injection molding (process II). The resulting biocomposites have been evaluated for their physicomechanical and thermomechanical properties. Cellulose acetate plasticized with 30% citrate plasticizer proved to be a better matrix compared to polypropylene (PP) for hemp fiber reinforcements in terms of flexural and damping properties. Biocomposites with 30 wt % of industrial hemp fiber processed through extrusion and injection molding exhibited a flexural strength of ∼78 MPa and modulus of elasticity of ∼5.6 GPa. Cellulose acetate butyrate plastic (CABP) proved to be a better matrix than plasticized cellulose acetate (CAP) for biocomposite applications. The fiber−matrix adhesions are evaluated through environmental scanning microscopy (ESEM) analysis.

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     Composite Materials and Structures Center.

     The School of Packaging.


     To whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel.: +1-517-353-5466. Fax:  +1-517-432-1634. E-mail:  drzal@

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