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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Integrated Crop, Soil, and Water Management Systems for Sustainable Production of Sugarcane for Bioenergy Feedstock

Location: Sugarcane Research Unit

Title: Rigid polyurethane foam – kenaf core composites for structural applications

Authors
item Nar, Mangesh -
item Webber, Charles
item D'Sourza, Nandika -

Submitted to: Bio Environmental Polymer Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 8, 2012
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) is a fast growing summer annual crop with numerous commercial applications (fibers, biofuels, bioremediation, paper pulp, building materials, cover crops, and livestock forages). The stalks of the kenaf plants contain two distinct fiber types, bast and core fibers. The bark, which averages 35% of the stalk dry weight, contains long fiber strains called bast fibers. The remaining portion of the stalk contains shorter core fibers. The objective of this research was to investigate the use of the kenaf core as reinforcing fiber in polyurethane foam composites (RPUF). Five, 10, and 15% kenaf core fractions were used as reinforcement for rigid polyurethane foam composites. Compression (modulus, peak load, and peak stress) and flexural tests (shear stress and peak load) were conducted to study the influence of kenaf core on the mechanical parameters. MicroCT X-ray tomography was used to conduct in-situ compression tests. The composites were analyzed using environmental scanning microscopy and reconstruction imagery. It was determined that kenaf core could be successfully used as a reinforcing fiber for polyurethane foam. Total porosity decreased as the percentage of core increased, 74.57%, 56.21%, and 27.68, for 5, 10, and 15% kenaf core, respectively. Compression test values for kenaf core reinforcement are higher than the values reported for cellulose fiber residue. The mechanical properties for 5% and 15% RPUF were superior to pure and 10% polyurethane form, resulting in lighter structural materials with superior mechanical properties. Future research will investigate the use of the kenaf RPUF boards in combination with laminates and structural components for building applications.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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