Recycling and value addition to thermoplastic wastes to produce plant fibre reinforced composites

Author(s): Edward O.V.Odhong, Paul M.Wambua, Abel N.Mayaka

Natural fibres are widely used as reinforcement for thermoplastics to produce composites. In this work, high density polyethylene wastes had value added to them by reinforcing with plant natural fibres (wood flour, rice husks and bagasse) during recycling. The fibres were heated to reduce their moisture content and improve their compatibilitieswith heatedHDPE wastes while binders were used to improve interfacial strength. Composites were prepared by extrusion and tested using universal mechanical testing equipment. The data were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) technique. The final results for mechanical properties for wood flour, rice husks and bagasse composites respectively were: Tensile strength 83.87 MPa, 74 MPa, and 62.73MPa; Flexural 26.73MPa, 39MPa and 15.22MPa;Compressive 225MPa, 190.5MPa and 140MPa and Impact strength 78 J/mm2, 81 J/ mm2 and 66 J/mm2. The use of binders significantly improved impact strengths and use of fibres added value by cloning desirable mechanical properties to thermoplastic wastes through molecular re-engineering at the interface. Thermoplastic wastes therefore got a second life in form of new value added fibre reinforced products having possible usage for construction works instead of heading for land filling or incineration.

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