, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1503–1516 | Cite as

Modifications of Alfa fibers by alkali and hydrothermal treatment

  • Soukaina AjouguimEmail author
  • Karima Abdelouahdi
  • Mohamed Waqif
  • Maria Stefanidou
  • Latifa Saâdi
Original Research


Moroccan Alfa plant (Stipatenacissima L) was investigated using several techniques: chemical composition, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), crystallinity index determined by X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscope (SEM). The raw fiber contained 39.53 wt% of cellulose, 27.63 wt% of hemicellulose, and 19.53 wt% of lignin. The longitudinal view by SEM confirmed the bundle shape. Moreover, a homogeneous distribution of various particles called trichomes with regular forms was recorded. The aim of the research is to improve the properties of Alfa fibers via a mild and effective technique in order to proceed their utilization in construction. To modify the surface, fibers were treated by sodium hydroxide (6 wt%) and hydrothermal treatment at different times. A comparison was carried on the untreated and treated Alfa fibers by several techniques. Enhanced properties were obtained with 6 h of treatment by sodium hydroxide and 1 h by hydrothermal treatment. Both treatments exhibit a modification of the fibers microstructure and morphology; FTIR and chemical analysis confirmed the hemicellulose and lignin reduction after 6 h of alkali treatment and 1 h of hydrothermal treatment. As a result, an improvement of the crystallinity index was noticed. SEM micrographs also confirmed an enhancement of the fibers roughness after treatment.

Graphical abstract


Alfa fibers Chemical modification Alkali treatment Hydrothermal treatment Morphological behavior Microstructure 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Moroccan Center for Analysis and Characterization (CAC) affiliated to Cadi Ayyad University, for providing some sample characterizations. A special acknowledgment is expressed to CNRST (National Center for Scientific and Technical Research -Morocco) for the Merit Scholarship No. 16UCA2017.


  1. Achour A, Ghomari F, Belayachi N (2017) Properties of cementitious mortars reinforced with natural fibers. J Adhes Sci Technol 4243:1–25. Google Scholar
  2. Alawar A, Hamed AM, Al-Kaabi K (2009) Characterization of treated date palm tree fiber as composite reinforcement. Compos Part B Eng 40:601–606. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alburquerque JA, Gonzálvez J, Garcìa D, Cegarra J (2004) Agrochemical characterisation of “alperujo”, a solid by-product of the two-phase centrifugation method for olive oil extraction. Bioresour Technol 91:195–200. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arrakhiz FZ, Elachaby M, Bouhfid R, Vaudreuil S, Essassi M, Qaiss A (2012) Mechanical and thermal properties of polypropylene reinforced with Alfa fiber under different chemical treatment. Mater Des 35:318–322. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arrakhiz FZ, Achaby E, Malha M, Bensalah MO, Fassi-Fehri O, Bouhfid R, Benmoussa K, Qaiss A (2013) Mechanical and thermal properties of natural fibers reinforced polymer composites: Doum/low density polyethylene. Mater Des 43:200–205. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barra BN, Santos SF, Bergo PVA, Alves C, Savastano K, Ghavami H (2015) Residual sisal fibers treated by methane cold plasma discharge for potential application in cement based material. Ind Crops Prod 77:691–702. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Benyahia A, Merrouche A, Rahmouni ZE, Rokbi A, Serge M, Walter Kouadri Z (2014) Study of the alkali treatment effect on the mechanical behavior of the composite unsaturated polyester-Alfa fibers. Mech Ind 15:69–73. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bessa J, Matos J, Mota CC, Araújo F, Silva I, Pinho L, Elizabete Fangueiro R (2017) Influence of surface treatments on the mechanical properties of fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites. Procedia Eng 200:465–471. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bessadok A, Marais S, Gouanvé F, Colasse L, Zimmerlin I, Métayer S, Roudesli M (2007) Effect of chemical treatments of Alfa (Stipa tenacissima) fibres on water-sorption properties. Compos Sci Technol 67:685–697. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bessadok A, Roudesli S, Marais S, Follain N, Lebrun L (2009) Alfa fibres for unsaturated polyester composites reinforcement: effects of chemical treatments on mechanical and permeation properties. Compos Part A Appl Sci Manuf 40:184–195. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Borchani KE, Carrot C, Jaziri M (2015) Untreated and alkali treated fibers from Alfa stem: effect of alkali treatment on structural, morphological and thermal features. Cellulose 22:1577–1589. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boukhoulda A, Boukhoulda FB, Makich H, Nouari M, Haddag B (2017) Microstructural and mechanical characterizations of natural long Alfa fibers obtained with different extractions processes. J Nat Fibers. Google Scholar
  13. Bourgois J, Bartholin MC, Guyonnet R (1989) Thermal treatment of wood: analysis of the obtained product. Wood Sci Technol 23:303–310. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bourmaud A, Morvan C, Bouali AP, Perré V, Patrick Baley C (2013) Relationships between micro-fibrillar angle, mechanical properties and biochemical composition of flax fibers. Ind Crops Prod 44:343–351. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Campbell AG, Kim W-J, Koch P (2007) Chemical variation in lodgepole pine with sapwood/heartwood, stem height, and variety. Wood Fiber Sci 22:22–30Google Scholar
  16. Carrillo-Varela I, Pereira M, Mendonça RT (2018) Determination of polymorphic changes in cellulose from Eucalyptus spp. fibres after alkalization. Cellulose. Google Scholar
  17. Chanzy H, Imada K, Mollard A et al (1979) Crystallographic aspects of sub-elementary cellulose fibrils occurring in the wall of rose cells culturedin vitro. Protoplasma 100:303–316. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Darmstadt H, Garcìa-Perez M, Chaala AC, Nai-Zhen Roy C (2001) Co-pyrolysis under vacuum of sugar cane bagasse and petroleum residue: properties of the char and activated char products. Carbon N Y 39:815–825. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. El Achaby M, Kassab Z, Barakat A, Aboulkas A (2018) Alfa fibers as viable sustainable source for cellulose nanocrystals extraction: application for improving the tensile properties of biopolymer nanocomposite films. Ind Crops Prod 112:499–510. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Elfehri Borchani K, Carrot C, Jaziri M (2015) Biocomposites of Alfa fibers dispersed in the Mater-Bi® type bioplastic: morphology, mechanical and thermal properties. Compos Part A Appl Sci Manuf 78:371–379. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Essabir H, Elkhaoulani A, Benmoussa K, Bouhfid R, Arrakhiz FZ, Qaiss A (2013a) Dynamic mechanical thermal behavior analysis of doum fibers reinforced polypropylene composites. Mater Des 51:780–788. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Essabir H, Hilali E, El Elgharad A, Minor H, Imad A, Al Elamraoui A, Gaoudi O (2013b) Mechanical and thermal properties of bio-composites based on polypropylene reinforced with nut-shells of argan particles. Mater Des 49:442–448. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Essabir H, Raji M, Bouh R (2016) Nanoclay reinforced polymer composites. Nanoclay Reinf Polym Compos 1:29–49. Google Scholar
  24. Ferreira SR, Silva FDA, Lima PRL, Toledo Filho RD (2015) Effect of fiber treatments on the sisal fiber properties and fiber-matrix bond in cement based systems. Constr Build Mater 101:730–740. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. French AD (2014) Idealized powder diffraction patterns for cellulose polymorphs. Cellulose 21:885–896. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. French AD, Santiago Cintrón M (2013) Cellulose polymorphy, crystallite size, and the Segal Crystallinity Index. Cellulose 20:583–588. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Garcìa-Pèrez M, Chaala A, Yang J, Roy C (2001) Co-pyrolysis of sugarcane bagasse with petroleum residue. Part I: thermogravimetric analysis. Fuel 80:1245–1258. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gu H (2009) Tensile behaviours of the coir fibre and related composites after NaOH treatment. Mater Des 30:3931–3934. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gupta PK, Uniyal V, Naithani S (2013) Polymorphic transformation of cellulose I to cellulose II by alkali pretreatment and urea as an additive. Carbohydr Polym 94:843–849. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hamza S, Saad H, Charrier BA, Naceur Charrier-El Bouhtoury F (2013) Physico-chemical characterization of Tunisian plant fibers and its utilization as reinforcement for plaster based composites. Ind Crops Prod 49:357–365. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hanana S, Elloumi A, Placet VT, Belghith H, Hafedh Bradai C (2015) An efficient enzymatic-based process for the extraction of high-mechanical properties alfa fibres. Ind Crops Prod 70:190–200. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hanana S, Elloumi A, Placet, Vincent Belghith, Hafedh Gargouri, Ali Bradai C (2016) Influence of enzymatic-based extraction process on the tensile properties of Alfa fibre. In: 1st EuroMagrebine conference on BioComposites, 28–31 Mar 2016, MarrakechGoogle Scholar
  33. Hashim MY, Amin AM, Marwah OM, Othman MH, Yunus MR, Huat NC (2017) The effect of alkali treatment under various conditions on physical properties of kenaf fiber. J Phys: Conf Ser 914:12030. Google Scholar
  34. Jayaramudu J, Maity A, Sadiku ER, Guduri BR, Varada Rajulu A, Ramana CHVV, Li R (2011) Structure and properties of new natural cellulose fabrics from Cordia dichotoma. Carbohydr Polym 86:1623–1629. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Khiari R, Mhenni MF, Belgacem MN, Mauret E (2010) Chemical composition and pulping of date palm rachis and Posidonia oceanica—a comparison with other wood and non-wood fibre sources. Bioresour Technol 101:775–780. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Le Troedec M, Sedan D, Peyratout CB, Smith JP, Guinebretiere A, Gloaguen R, Vincent Krausz P (2008) Influence of various chemical treatments on the composition and structure of hemp fibres. Compos Part A Appl Sci Manuf 39:514–522. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Li X, Tabil LG, Panigrahi S (2007) Chemical treatments of natural fiber for use in natural fiber-reinforced composites: a review. J Polym Environ 15:25–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mabrouk AB, Kaddami H, Boufi SE, Fouad Dufresne A (2012) Cellulosic nanoparticles from Alfa fibers (Stipa tenacissima): extraction procedures and reinforcement potential in polymer nanocomposites. Cellulose 19:843–853. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Maghchiche A, Haouam A, Immirzi B (2013) Extraction and characterization of Algerian Alfa grass short fibers (Stipa tenacissima). Chem Chem Technol 7:339–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Manalo AC, Wani E, Zukarnain NA, Karunasena W, Lau KT (2015) Effects of alkali treatment and elevated temperature on the mechanical properties of bamboo fibre-polyester composites. Compos Part B 80:73–83. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mouhoubi S, Bourahli MEH, Osmani H, Abdeslam S (2017) Effect of alkali treatment on Alfa fibers behavior. J Nat Fibers 14:239–249. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Neto CP, Seca A, Fradinho D, Coimbra MA, Domingues F, Evtuguin D, Cavaleiro A, Silvestre JAS (1996) Chemical composition and structural features of the macromolecular components of Hibiscus cannabinus grown in Portugal. Ind Crops Prod 5:189–196. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ofomaja AE, Naidoo EB (2011) Biosorption of copper from aqueous solution by chemically activated pine cone: a kinetic study. Chem Eng J 175:260–270. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Omri MA, Triki A, Guicha M, Hassen MB, Arous M, AhmedElHamzaoui H, Bulou A (2013) Effect of wool and thermo-binder fibers on adhesion of Alfa fibers in polyester composite. J Appl Phys. Google Scholar
  45. Paiva MC, Ammar I, Campos AR, Cheikh RB, Cunha AM (2007) Alfa fibres: mechanical, morphological and interfacial characterization. Compos Sci Technol 67:1132–1138. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Qaiss A, Bouhfid R, Essabir H (2015a) Effect of processing conditions on the mechanical and morphological properties of composites reinforced by natural fibres. In: Manufacturing of natural fibre reinforced polymer composites, Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 177–197Google Scholar
  47. Qaiss A, Bouhfid R, Essabir H (2015b) Characterization and use of coir, almond, apricot, argan, shells, and wood as reinforcement in the polymeric matrix in order to valorize these products. In: Agricultural biomass based potential materials, Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 305–339Google Scholar
  48. Rokbi M, Osmani H, Imad A, Benseddiq N (2011) Effect of chemical treatment on flexure properties of natural fiber-reinforced polyester composite. Procedia Eng 10:2092–2097. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sawpan MA, Pickering KL, Fernyhough A (2011) Effect of various chemical treatments on the fibre structure and tensile properties of industrial hemp fibres. Compos Part A Appl Sci Manuf 42:888–895. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sawsen C, Fouzia K, Mohamed B, Moussa G (2015) Effect of flax fibers treatments on the rheological and the mechanical behavior of a cement composite. Constr Build Mater 79:229–235. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sellami A, Merzoud M, Amziane S (2013) Improvement of mechanical properties of green concrete by treatment of the vegetals fibers. Constr Build Mater 47:1117–1124. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Spinacé MAS, Lambert CS, Fermoselli KKG, De Paoli M-A (2009) Characterization of lignocellulosic curaua fibres. Carbohydr Polym 77:47–53. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thygesen A, Oddershede J, Lilholt HT, Anne Belinda Ståhl K (2005) On the determination of crystallinity and cellulose content in plant fibres. Cellulose 12:563. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Trache D, Donnot A, Khimeche KB, Riad Brosse N (2014) Physico-chemical properties and thermal stability of microcrystalline cellulose isolated from Alfa fibres. Carbohydr Polym 104:223–230. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Trache D, Hussin MH, Chuin CT, Sabar S, Fazita MN, Taiwo OF, Hassan TM, Haafiz MM (2016) Microcrystalline cellulose: isolation, characterization and bio-composites application—a review. Int J Biol Macromol 93:789–804. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Turki A, El Oudiani A, Msahli S, Sakli F (2018) Investigation of OH bond energy for chemically treated alfa fibers. Carbohydr Polym 186:226–235. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Valadez-Gonzalez A, Cervantes-Uc JM, Olayo R, Herrera-Franco PJ (1999) Effect of fiber surface treatment on the fiber–matrix bond strength of natural fiber reinforced composites. Compos Part B Eng 30:309–320. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wada M, Okano T, Sugiyama J (1997) Synchrotron-radiated X-ray and neutron diffraction study of native cellulose. Cellulose 4:221–232. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wei J, Meyer C (2014) Improving degradation resistance of sisal fiber in concrete through fiber surface treatment. Appl Surf Sci 289:511–523. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yan L, Kasal B, Huang L (2016) A review of recent research on the use of cellulosic fibres, their fibre fabric reinforced cementitious, geo-polymer and polymer composites in civil engineering. Compos Part B Eng 92:94–132. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Youssef B, Soumia A, Mounir EA, Omar CA, Mehdi L, El Bouchti MZ (2015) Preparation and properties of bionanocomposite films reinforced with nanocellulose isolated from moroccan Alfa fibres. Autex Res J 15:164–172. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soukaina Ajouguim
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Karima Abdelouahdi
    • 2
  • Mohamed Waqif
    • 1
  • Maria Stefanidou
    • 3
  • Latifa Saâdi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Matière Condensée et Nanostructures, Faculté des Sciences et TechniquesUniversité Cadi Ayyad-MoroccoMarrakeshMorocco
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Chimie des Matériaux et d’Environnement, Faculté des Sciences et TechniquesUniversité Cadi Ayyad-MoroccoMarrakeshMorocco
  3. 3.Laboratory of Building Materials, School of Civil EngineeringAUTHThessaloníkiGreece

Personalised recommendations