Characterization of raffia palm fiber for use in polymer composites
Raffia palm fibers are potential reinforcement materials for making cost-effective polymer-based composite. This paper presents the results obtained from a study of physical, chemical, thermal and mechanical properties of raffia palm fibers (RPFs) derived from the raffia palm tree (Raphia farinifera). The as-received RPFs had their remnant binders manually removed and was subsequently cleaned in a 2% detergent solution before drying in an air oven at 70 °C for 24 h. Evaluation of the properties of the dried samples was carried out using a combination of characterization techniques including chemical composition determination, density measurement, moisture adsorption and water absorption measurements, tensile testing, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffractometry, and Fourier transform infrared spectromicroscopy. The main constituents of RPFs were found to be cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The average diameter and average density were 1.53 ± 0.29 mm and 1.50 ± 0.01 g/cm3, respectively. The average breaking strength of the fibers ranged from 152 ± 22 to 270 ± 39 MPa; it did not vary significantly with fiber length and cross-head speed during tensile testing. The results of scanning electron microscopic investigation of the fibers showed that they comprise several elemental fibers which are tightly packed together with each having its own lumen. Synchrotron-based Fourier-transform infrared spectromicroscopy of a cross-section of the fiber showed that lignin is concentrated mostly on the outside while cellulose and pectin are concentrated in the mid-section. A two-stage water sorption behavior was observed for the fibers.
KeywordsRaffia palm fiber Mechanical properties Thermal properties Synchrotron Infrared spectroscopy
Part of the research described in this paper was performed at the Canadian Light Source, which is supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the National Research Council Canada, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. We acknowledge Mr. Jarvis Stobbs and Dr. Na Liu from the Canadian Light Source for their support in sample preparation for the FTIRS and training for data collection, respectively. We also acknowledge Dr. L. Tabil for the use of his tensile testing machine and gas pycnometer.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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