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Chemical Treatment of Waste Abaca for Natural Fiber-Reinforced Geopolymer Composite

The use of natural fibers in reinforced composites to produce eco-friendly materials is gaining more attention due to their attractive features such as low cost, low density and good mechanical properties, among others. This work thus investigates the potential of waste abaca (Manila hemp) fiber as reinforcing agent in an inorganic aluminosilicate material known as geopolymer. In this study, the waste fibers were subjected to different chemical treatments to modify the surface characteristics…

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. 2017 May 25;10(6):579.

doi: 10.3390/ma10060579.

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Roy Alvin J Malenab et al. Materials (Basel). .

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Abstract

The use of natural fibers in reinforced composites to produce eco-friendly materials is gaining more attention due to their attractive features such as low cost, low density and good mechanical properties, among others. This work thus investigates the potential of waste abaca (Manila hemp) fiber as reinforcing agent in an inorganic aluminosilicate material known as geopolymer. In this study, the waste fibers were subjected to different chemical treatments to modify the surface characteristics and to improve the adhesion with the fly ash-based geopolymer matrix. Definitive screening design of experiment was used to investigate the effect of successive chemical treatment of the fiber on its tensile strength considering the following factors: (1) NaOH pretreatment; (2) soaking time in aluminum salt solution; and (3) final pH of the slurry. The results show that the abaca fiber without alkali pretreatment, soaked for 12 h in Al₂(SO₄)₃ solution and adjusted to pH 6 exhibited the highest tensile strength among the treated fibers. Test results confirmed that the chemical treatment removes the lignin, pectin and hemicellulose, as well as makes the surface rougher with the deposition of aluminum compounds. This improves the interfacial bonding between geopolymer matrix and the abaca fiber, while the geopolymer protects the treated fiber from thermal degradation.

Keywords: abaca (Manila hemp) fiber; chemical treatment; definitive screening design of experiment; fiber-reinforced composite; geopolymer; tensile strength; waste utilization.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Figures

Figure 1

Figure 1

Waste abaca from Dumaguete, Philippines: (a) as received; and (b) segregated into 100 strands.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Chemical treatment and characterization of waste abaca fiber.

Figure 3

Figure 3

X-ray diffraction (XRD) peak deconvolution method to measure crystallinity index.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Three-point flexural strength test.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Actual vs. Predicted Plot (– – – – 0.05 significance curve; – – – –mean) for the regression model and the model coefficients.

Figure 6

Figure 6

Interaction plot matrix of the factors for chemical treatment of the abaca fibers.

Figure 7

Figure 7

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) spectra of: (a) untreated abaca; (b) NaOH-treated abaca; (c) NaOH + Al2(SO4)3 treated abaca; and (d) precipitate or residue from the spent solution of Al2(SO4)3 treatment.

Figure 8

Figure 8

XRD spectra of untreated (a) and NaOH-treated (b) abaca fibers.

Figure 9

Figure 9

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images at low and high magnification of raw (untreated), NaOH-treated and Al2(SO4)3-treated abaca fibers: (a) raw (untreated); (b) NaOH treated; (c) without NaOH pretreatment; 12 h soaking; final pH = 6; (d) with NaOH pretreatment; 12 h; pH = 6; (e) without NaOH pretreatment; 12 h; pH = 4.5; and (f) with NaOH pretreatment; 0.5 h, pH = 6. Low and high magnification are labeled as “1” and “2”, respectively.

Figure 10

Figure 10

Sample EDS spectra of: (a) NaOH-treated; and (b) Al2(SO4)3-treated abaca.

Figure 11

Figure 11

Thermograms of: (a) untreated; (b) treated solely with Al2(SO4)3; (c) alkali-pretreated; and (d) alkali and Al2(SO4)3 solution-treated abaca fiber samples.

Figure 12

Figure 12

Fracture surface of pristine geopolymer, reinforced with untreated abaca and reinforced with treated abaca.

Figure 13

Figure 13

SEM images of composite fractured surfaces: (a) reinforced with untreated abaca; (b) reinforced with treated abaca; (c) interface between untreated abaca fiber and geopolymer matrix and (d) interface between treated abaca fiber and geopolymer matrix.

Figure 14

Figure 14

SEM image (a) and thermogram of untreated abaca fibers and treated abaca fibers (b) from the geopolymer composite.

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References

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