Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Introductory Chapter: Natural Fiber Plastic Composites - A Brief Review

By Ezgi Günay

Reviewed: October 5th 2017Published: May 2nd 2018

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.71477

Downloaded: 469

1. Introduction

The natural composites are classified mainly in three biomaterial categories: green composites, hybrid biocomposites, and textile biocomposites. In recent times, biological materials have become essential materials for the construction and automotive industry. Natural fibers and particles have been already used in various types of materials such as plastics, concrete, and textile products as strengthening part of the fiber/matrix combination. These composite materials have very good mechanical thermal and acoustical properties; therefore, they have been used in various engineering applications. The wood-plastic composites (WPCs) have been used in many application areas as automotives, constructions, marine, electronic and aerospace areas instead of fiber glass composites and steel materials. As a wood derivative, hemp fibers have been used in generating thermoplastic matrix composites. These composites can find its application area in the following five sectors: the first area is to modify some parts of the internal and external automobile structures and electric cars. The second area is to obtain strong cementation in building construction. Another area is the production of durable clothes for army suppliers. The fourth one is to produce small electric hand tools and the last one is to build supercapacitors in carbon nanosheets which are as strong as graphene. This review covers a general overview of the preparation phase (chemical procedures), test techniques (experiments) and results, and conclusions summaries (the gaining) of current studies on hemp fiber plastic composites. The data obtained by literature search of the 63 publications have been shown in Table A1 [163].

2. Scientific researches about natural hemp composites

The quality of the produced compounds depends on the elastic constants of the natural fibers used in the composition and the shape and size of the fibers as well as the properties of the matrix material. Factors influencing the strength of the composite material can be listed in more detail as follows: Morphic structure, chemical composition, density, thickness of wood plastic composites (WPCs) as well as the type and amount of bonding agent and fiber percentage used in composite material. According to the literature, the usage rate of the herb composites (WPCs) in the industrial areas is stated as follows: in the field of aviation 1%, in the area of consumer products 8%, in various fields 8%, in the field of electronics 10%, in the maritime field 12%, in the construction industry 26%, in the automotive sector 31%, and miscellaneous 4% [46].

2.1. General properties of natural fibers in plastic composites

Interface conditions have been influenced at the nanoscale level depending on the thermal sensitivity and the water content of the green materials in the process of preparing composite material from natural fiber embedded in a polymeric matrix. The natural fiber and the polymeric matrix interface features and the cell wall structure of the natural fibers influence: (i) the mechanical properties, (ii) the durability, and (iii) the recyclability of the industrially produced green composites. The literature survey results both on mechanical and chemical properties of the hemp fiber plastic composites and their usage in industrial areas have been listed in Table A1. Table A1 gives brief information on: (i) the aim of this research, (ii) the experimental methods used in compound production, and (iii) conclusions according to the obtained results. In Table A1; 63 research articles have been listed according to the fiber/matrix material characteristics. Of these 63 studies, 59 were related to fiber composites, while only 4 of them were related to particle composites. In the literature survey, the investigations were carried out in two groups: (a) original research articles and (b) review articles. The 52 articles of the 63 articles were original research articles. Researchers performed a series of experimental studies to obtain the information about the following main subjects related with the natural fibers and plastic matrices in biocomposites: (a) mechanical elastic constants, (b) strength, (c) failure stages, (d) the effect of moisture content, (e) biodegradability, (f) fiber matrix interface stresses, (g) cell wall properties, (h) hardness, and (i) the effect of chemical processing. The statistical information according to the performed experiments has been presented in Table 1 and Figure 1. The basic tests have been performed by tensile loading (23%) to obtain the Young’s modulus and tensile strength of the composite material in addition to the microscopic visualizations (optical light microscope, SEM) (17%) to observe deformation patterns of the loaded specimens in micro and nanoscales.

Test typeExperimental methodsTest typeExperimental methods
1Accelerated weathering testing20Microscopy (optical light microscope, SEM, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM))
2Acoustic emission monitoring21Moisture absorption method
3Biodegradability test22Nanoindentation test
4Chemical techniques23Nondestructive longitudinal and flexural free/forced vibration test
5Compression test24Sample thickness measurements
6Compression molding25Shear testing
7Density measurements26Single-fiber pullout test
8Diffusion measurement27Static/dynamic/vibration-damping testing
9Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC)28Surface energy and dynamic contact angle measurement
10Digital images recording29Taguchi’s technique
11Fatigue testing30Temperature field measurement
12Flexural test31Tensile testing
13Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)32Thermal techniques (annealing)
14Fracture toughness33Torsion test
15Growth test34Vicat test
16Impact test35Water absorption and volume change test
17Liquid chromatography (HPLC)36Weibull statistics
18Mass spectrometry37X-ray microtomography
19Microbond test

Table 1.

The list of performed experimental studies on natural fiber plastic composites.

Figure 1.

Curve represents the hemp fiber plastic composites and percentage distributions of the performed experimental studies in literature survey.

3. Conclusions

The results obtained by the literature search were summarized below and very important keypoints about fiber and matrix compositions, the physical features of the hemp fibers and hemp fiber plastic composites were emphasized. The main results were as follows.

(1) It was found that tensile strength, Young’s modulus, and impact strength of the hemp short fiber reinforced composites were increased in proportion to the increase in fiber content. (2) Flexural strength of the hemp fiber reinforced polylactide and unsaturated polyester composites were found to be decreased with increased fiber content. Additionally, flexural modulus was found to be increased in proportion to the increased fiber content. (3) The impact energy required to damage hemp composites was higher than in conventional laminates. (4) The deformation characterization of hemp/epoxy composites has been developed in three stages. (5) It was shown that natural fibers when compared to flexible fibers showed scattered and lower mechanical properties. (6) Minor variations in terms of the mechanical properties of the woody hemp core (WHC) cell walls were investigated at the nanoscale level. (7) The fiber/polymer interface was modified by using two functionalized chemical procedures simultaneously, and in this way, better adhesion capacity was obtained at the interface (between hemp fibers and thermoplastic matrix). (8) Variations obtained using nanodrawing tests showed slight variation in the cell wall properties, while the polymer composition was more variable. (9) Hemp fiber composites showed a greater resistance to crack formation and growth than glass fiber composites, although they had lower fatigue strength. (10) Testing natural fiber composites under low impact loading provides important information on the failure mechanisms of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) fiber epoxy composites.

Characteristics of the deformed material such as matrix cracking, delamination, fiber breakage, and fiber pullout phenomenon were examined microscopically [15, 16, 25, 44, 58]. In literature, there were rare experimental studies on the characteristic determination of hemp cell wall structures. In a study on this subject, minor variations at the nanoscale level related to the mechanical properties of the cell wall have been identified [19]. The comparison between the hemp fiber-polypropylene matrix and hemp fiber-fabric reinforced polyester resin in terms of material properties were summarized in Refs. [30, 46, 47, 60, 62]. The graphical results on mentioned values were given in Figure 2.

Figure 2.

The comparison for the hemp fiber, polypropylene and polyester resin materials according to the tensile strength and Young’s modulus.

A. Appendix

Author, Reference numberResearch subjectTesting methodsResults
Moyeenuddin et al. [1]Mechanical properties of hemp fiber reinforced compositesTensile testing, impact testing, and fracture toughness testingTensile strength, Young’s modulus, and impact strength
Summerscales et al. [2]A review to obtain high quality fiberGrowth, harvesting, and fiber separation techniquesA review
Summerscales et al. [3]Properties of natural fiber reinforced compositesMicroscopy, mechanical, chemical, and thermal techniquesA review
Pickering et al. [4]Plane-strain fracture toughness (KIc)Heat treatment “annealing”KQ of random short hemp fiber reinforced (PLA).
Sawpan et al. [5]Flexural strength and flexural modulusFlexural testFlexural strength of the composites increased with fiber content
Summerscales et al. [6]The rules-of-mixture (effects of porosity)Weibull statisticsA review
Newman et al. [7]Wood fiber reinforced in polypropyleneTensile testingMicromechanical models predicted the tensile modulus
Rachini et al. [8]Characteristics for hemp fibers and thermoplastic matrixChemical process, tensile and impact testing, and SEMOrganosilane coupling agents affecting the tensile strength
Michel et al. [9]Failure modes of (PHB) and PHB-hemp fiber reinforced compositesTensile testing and accelerated weathering testingChanges in the mechanical properties
Vasconcellos et al. [10]Typical tests of a woven hemp fiber reinforced epoxy compositeTensile and fatigue testing, optical microscopic, X-ray micro-tomography, temperature field measurement, and acoustic emission monitoring (AE)Three stages of damage mechanisms
John et al. [11]The classification of compositesA review
Ude et al. [12]A summary about Bombyx mori woven silk fiber and its compositeA review
Misnon et al. [13]An overview of describing natural textile materialsA review
Shah [14]Ashby-type materials selection chartsTensile testingA review
Caprino et al. [15]Natural composites in applicationsImpact loading, optical microscope, penetration test, and indentation testAn higher impact energy is necessary to obtain damage inside hemp composites
Kim et al. [16]The effect of pH on the tensile propertiesTensile testing, microbond test, SEM.The fracture toughness of the composites
Shah et al. [17]The mechanical properties of silkCharpy impact testing and short beam shear testingSilk fiber composites (SFRPs) offer advantages
Marrot et al. [18]The mechanical properties of hemp fibers (Fedora 17)Tensile testing, nanoindentation test, and X-ray diffraction testPlant fibers showed low mechanical properties
Beaugrand et al. [19]The micromechanical properties (WHC) cell wallsNanoindentation test, density measurements, flexural tests, and biochemical analysisThe mechanical properties of the cell walls
Salentijn et al. [20]Fiber hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) breeding programsA review
Liu et al. [21]The mechanical properties of hemp fibersTensile testing, chemical analysis, microscopic tests, and digital images recordingLess variable and high strength fibers
Almusawi et al. [22]The particle sizes, the moisture content, and the heating temperaturesThree point flexural testing and tensile testingThe importance of particle size
Christian et al. [23]Diffusion properties and mechanical propertiesTensile testing and diffusion measurementLarger change in properties of the hemp/cellulose
Yan et al. [24]The effect of fibers (MAPP)Tensile testing, flexure testing, and impact testing(MAPP) improved the fiber-PP adhesion
Lu et al. [25]The improvement of the fiber-matrix interface by 5 wt% NaOH treatmentSEM and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopyMechanical and thermo-mechanical properties
Shah et al. [26]Investigation of the mechanical testing casesTensile testing and fatigue testingFlax is a potential structural replacement to E-glass
Kabir et al. [27]The tensile properties of single hemp fibersOptical microscopy (OM) measuring and tensile testingThe tensile strength of chemically-treated fibers
Vasconcellos et al. [28]The resistance for low velocity impact of hemp/epoxyTensile testing, impact testing, fatigue testing, acoustic, emission (AE) monitoring, and microscopic observationsA decrease of the residual tensile strength
Landro et al. [29]The characteristics and performance of a thermoset bioepoxy resinStatic/dynamic/vibration-damping testingLaminated composites reinforced with hemp fibers
Sukmawan et al. [30]Steam exploded bamboo (SEB) fibersTensile testingThe tensile strength of alkali treated bamboo fiber
Vukcevic et al. [31]The optimal production of hemp fibers (ACh)SEM, mass spectrometry, and temperature programmed chemical reactionHigh efficiency in pesticides removal on hemp fibers
Kord [32]Mechanical properties of (PP)/hemp fiberTensile and impact testing, and X-ray diffraction (XRD) testingThe PP/hemp fiber composites
Kavianiboroujeni et al. [33]The effects of different design parametersThree-point bending flexural testing, and SEMHemp content parameters
Alhuthali et al. [34]A new infiltration methodThree point bending testing, impact testing, and fracture testingThe development of new composite materials
Saikia [35]The mechanical properties of the compositeSEM, the gravimetric moisture absorption method, and three point bending testThe thermodynamic parameters of the absorption process
Dalmay et al. [36]The effects of adding natural fibersSEM, Vicat test, and three point bending testing.Flax, lowered the crack propagation
Wretfors et al. [37]The improvement of fiber-matrix interactionsTensile testing, SEM, (HPLC), (CLSM)Getting a better fiber distribution
Erchiqui et al. [38]The mechanical and structural propertiesThe variations of the process parameters
Etaati et al. [39]The distribution and effects of the interfacial shear strength (IFSS)Tensile testingThe hemp fibers had lower tensile properties
Fotouh et al. [40]The effect of strain rateTensile testing, (SEM)The mechanical behavior is dominated by the matrix
Han et al. [41]Surface treatment effects(FTIR), moisture analysis, (DSC), and Tensile testingImprovement of the thermal stability of hemp fiber
Sawpan et al. [42]Mechanical properties of chemically treated random short fiberImpact testing and fracture testingMechanical properties of (PLA) increased
Mantia et al. [43]Polymer composites filled with natural-organic fillers.A review
Sawpan et al. [44]The interfacial shear strength (IFSS)Optical light microscope, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), scanning electron microscope (SEM).(IFSS) of PLA/hemp and UPE/hemp fiber samples
John et al. [45]Cellulosic fiber reinforced polymeric compositesA review
Ashori et al. [46]Wood-plastic composites (WPC).A review
Koronis et al. [47]Green compositesA review
Schirp et al. [48]Wood and hemp fibersTensile testing, three-point bending test, Charpy impact testing, water absorption and volume change test, and dynamic mechanical analysis test.Flexural strength values.
Wretfors et al. [49]Reinforcing wheat gluten (WG) plastics with hemp fibersCompression molding, tensile testing, SEM, and sample thickness measurementsHemp fibers in composite material
Ismail et al. [50]The influence of drilling parameters and fiber aspect ratiosTaguchi’s techniqueThe delamination factor and surface roughness of drilled holes
Jalili et al. [51]The acoustic parameters of three different polyester compositesNon-destructive longitudinal and flexural free/forced vibration testsThe results obtained from longitudinal free vibration method
Kakroodi et al. [52]Hemp fibers and particles, in hybrid compositesTensile, flexural, three-point bending, torsion and impact tests, and SEMThe mechanical properties of the composites
Ochi, et al. [53]The hemp fiber reinforced biodegradable plasticsTensile testing, SEM, and biodegradability testThe tensile strength of the composites
Shahzad et al. [54]The effects of alkalization surface treatment on hemp fiber propertiesTensile testing, impact testing, fatigue testing, and SEMThe tensile properties, interfacial shear strength
Shahzad et al. [55]The fatigue properties of nonwoven hemp fiberTensile testing and fatigue testingThe hemp fiber composites with less fatigue sensitivity.
Terzopoulou et al. [56]The study about fully biodegradable (“green”) composite materialsTensile testing, impact testing, Fourier transform, infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimeter, and scanning electron microscopyTensile and impact strength
Toupe et al. [57]Phase compatibilization of four mechanical propertiesTensile testing, flexural testing, and impact testingFiber concentration parameter
Kabamba et al. [58]The effect of hemp fibers.Shear testing and elongation test.The rheological properties
Muneer [59]Hemp fiber reinforced wheat gluten (WG) compositesBiodegradability test using the ASTM D5988-03 standardA review
Scutaru [60]The mechanical properties hemp fiber compositesTensile testingThe measured Young’s modulus distribution
Gassan [61]The elastic propertiesAnalytical solution, SEM.The experimental data and calculations
Shahzad [62]Physical and mechanical properties of hemp fibersTensile testing, thermal characterization, single fiber pull-out test, surface energy and dynamic contact angle measurement, and SEMThe tensile strength, Young’s modulus, and surface energy
Niyigena [63]The impact properties of hemp concreteCompression test, impact testMechanical behaviors of hemp concrete material

Table A1.

Literature survey: the main characteristic properties of the hemp fiber reinforced epoxy composites.

© 2018 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Ezgi Günay (May 2nd 2018). Introductory Chapter: Natural Fiber Plastic Composites - A Brief Review, Natural and Artificial Fiber-Reinforced Composites as Renewable Sources, Ezgi Günay, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.71477. Available from:

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