Nowadays, ecological concern has resulted in a renewed interest in natural fibres based on lignocellulose, such as flax and hemp. These fibres are an interesting alternative for the use of glass fibres in engineering polymer composites. In contrast to glass fibres these vegetable fibres are renewable, nonabrasive to processing equipment, can be incinerated and show less concern with safety and health. In addition they exhibit excellent mechanical properties, especially when their low density and price in comparison to E-glass fibres is taken into account. Unfortunately, up to now their high moisture absorption and poor dimensional stability (swelling), as well as their susceptibility to rotting has hindered the successful application of these fibres in high-quality products. With a recently developed upgrading process for materials based on ligno-cellulose these limiting properties can be significantly improved. The availability of this novel upgrading process for natural fibres could remove the main restriction for the successful application of these fibres in high-quality engineering composites with improved durability. The objective of this cooperative research project is to develop thermoplastic composite products based on upgraded flax fibres with optimised mechanical and physical properties, improved durability and a good processability. As a result these materials could compete with commercially available glass-fibre-reinforced thermoplastic products, anticipating on the growing demand for environmental friendly products, e.g. polymers reinforced with natural fibres, offering tremendous market opportunities for the SME proposers.
Funding SchemeEAW - Exploratory awards
6704 AT Wageningen
51469 Bergisch Gladbach