Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2007
Publication Date: 10/1/2007
Citation: Bhat, G., Kamath, M.G., Parikh, D.V. 2007. Biodegradable/Compostable Composites From Ligno-Cellulosic Fibers. In: Anandjiwala, R., Hunter L. Kozlowski, R., Zaikov, G., Editors. Textiles for Sustainable Development, Nova Science Publishers, Inc. New York. Chapter 12, pp 133-145. Interpretive Summary: Many fiber reinforced composite parts are used in automotives for thermal and acoustic insulation. Today’s composites contain synthetic fibers, which are not recyclable or biodegradable, and pose difficulty in disposing at the end of their useful life. That is why, there is a need for biodegradable composites. Enhanced biodegradability is achieved by replacing glass fibers with the ligno-cellulosic fibers such as cotton, kenaf, flax, hemp, and jute. Such natural fiber reinforced composites are known as green composites. These lingo-cellulose fiber-based composites can be safely disposed off after their intended use without polluting the environment. It is shown that by suitably blending cotton and flax or kenaf, with an appropriate thermoplastic biodegradable fiber in the right proportion, a moldable automotive nonwoven-based composite can be produced. Such green composites can contribute greatly to the automotive manufacturers final goal of weight and cost reduction.
Technical Abstract: The increased importance of renewable resources for raw materials and recyclabi1ity/biodegradability of the product at the end of the useful life are demanding a shift from petroleum-based synthetics to agro-based natural fibers in automotive interiors. Natural fiber composites can contribute greatly to the automotive manufacturer's final goal of weight and cost reduction. The approach in this research has been to evaluate lignocellulose-based nonwoven composites for automotive and other similar applications. The effect of different lignocellulose and binder fIber compositions on the structure and properties of the resulting composites will be discussed. These ligno-cellulose fiber-based composites can be safely disposed of after their intended use without polluting the environment. It is shown that by suitably blending cotton and flax or kenaf, with an appropriate thermoplastic biodegradable fIber in the right proportion, a moldable automotive nonwoven-based composite can be produced. Cellulose acetate, biodegradable copolyesters and other thermoplastic polymers/fibers will function as the binder fibers, eliminating the use of any non-biodegradable synthetic or a chemical binder. Recent studies indicate that nonwoven composites with good tensile properties can be produced from such blends. These composites have shown good promise in tensile properties, and further experiments are being conducted with different combinations of cotton/flax or cottonlkenaf and different thermoplastic biodegradable binder fibers. The composite samples fabricated by thermoforming of nonwoven balts prepared from fiber blends are being evaluated for their physical and acoustical properties. Issues related to blending of different components and adhesion between different matrix and fIbers are discussed.