Can supercritical carbon dioxide be suitable for the green pretreatment of plant fibres dedicated to composite applications?


This work explores the use of supercritical carbon dioxide (sc-CO2) conditions as an innovative and environmentally friendly treatment of plant fibres to optimize their performance for integration into composite materials. This study evaluates, in particular, the influence of this treatment on the mechanical, thermal, hygroscopic properties and biochemical features of industrial hemp bast fibres. Two distinct settings were tested by tuning time, temperature and pressure parameters to assess the influence of the severity of the treatment on the fibre quality. Results show that sc-CO2 treatment induces an increase in the fibre fineness and a decrease in their moisture sensitivity while maintaining their initial resistance to temperature. These changes are consistent with the measured decrease in the relative content of hemicelluloses. A significant decrease in the tensile rigidity and strength is also observed as a function of the severity of sc-CO2 treatment, counterbalancing a little bit the benefits retained on the other properties.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 199

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7
Figure 8


  1. 1

    Mohanty AK, Misra M, Drzal LT (2005) Natural fibers, biopolymers, and biocomposites. Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton

  2. 2

    Pickering KL, Efendy MGA, Le TM (2016) A review of recent developments in natural fibre composites and their mechanical performance. Compos Part Appl Sci Manuf 83:98–112.

  3. 3

    Liu M, Thygesen A, Summerscales J, Meyer AS (2017) Targeted pre-treatment of hemp bast fibres for optimal performance in biocomposite materials: a review. Ind Crops Prod 108:660–683.

  4. 4

    Coroller G, Lefeuvre A, Le Duigou A et al (2013) Effect of flax fibres individualisation on tensile failure of flax/epoxy unidirectional composite. Compos Part Appl Sci Manuf 51:62–70.

  5. 5

    Rask M, Madsen B, Sørensen BF et al (2012) In situ observations of microscale damage evolution in unidirectional natural fibre composites. Compos Part Appl Sci Manuf 43:1639–1649.

  6. 6

    Placet V, Méteau J, Froehly L et al (2014) Investigation of the internal structure of hemp fibres using optical coherence tomography and Focused Ion Beam transverse cutting. J Mater Sci 49:8317–8327.

  7. 7

    Charlet K, Béakou A (2011) Mechanical properties of interfaces within a flax bundle—Part I: experimental analysis. Int J Adhes Adhes 31:875–881.

  8. 8

    Dhakal H, Zhang Z, Richardson M (2007) Effect of water absorption on the mechanical properties of hemp fibre reinforced unsaturated polyester composites. Compos Sci Technol 67:1674–1683.

  9. 9

    Le Duigou A, Davies P, Baley C (2009) Seawater ageing of flax/poly(lactic acid) biocomposites. Polym Degrad Stab 94:1151–1162.

  10. 10

    Pucci MF, Liotier P-J, Seveno D et al (2017) Wetting and swelling property modifications of elementary flax fibres and their effects on the liquid composite molding process. Compos Part Appl Sci Manuf 97:31–40.

  11. 11

    Peach J, Eastoe J (2014) Supercritical carbon dioxide: a solvent like no other. Beilstein J Org Chem 10:1878–1895.

  12. 12

    Zhang X, Heinonen S, Levänen E (2014) Applications of supercritical carbon dioxide in materials processing and synthesis. RSC Adv 4:61137–61152.

  13. 13

    Schmidt A, Bach E, Schollmeyer E (2002) Damage to natural and synthetic fibers treated in supercritical carbon dioxide at 300 bar and temperatures up to 160 C. Text Res J 72:1023–1032

  14. 14

    Demagalhaes Nunes Da ponte ML, Da Silva Lopes JA, Vesna N-V et al (2013) Method for direct treatment of cork stoppers, using supercritical fluids, Patent WO/2010/093273

  15. 15

    Serna LVD, Alzate CEO, Alzate CAA (2016) Supercritical fluids as a green technology for the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. Bioresour Technol 199:113–120.

  16. 16

    Attard TM, Bainier C, Reinaud M et al (2018) Utilisation of supercritical fluids for the effective extraction of waxes and Cannabidiol (CBD) from hemp wastes. Ind Crops Prod 112:38–46.

  17. 17

    Patil PD, Dandamudi KPR, Wang J et al (2018) Extraction of bio-oils from algae with supercritical carbon dioxide and co-solvents. J Supercrit Fluids 135:60–68.

  18. 18

    Gutiérrez MC, de Rosa PTV, De Paoli M-A, Felisberti MI (2012) Biocompósitos de acetato de celulose e fibras curtas de Curauá tratadas com CO2 supercrítico. Polímeros 22:295–302.

  19. 19

    张华, 张建春, 郝新敏 (2009) Degumming method of hemp fiber, Patent CN100564619C

  20. 20

    Placet V, Day A, Beaugrand J (2017) The influence of unintended field retting on the physicochemical and mechanical properties of industrial hemp bast fibres. J Mater Sci 52:5759–5777.

  21. 21

    Hill CAS, Norton A, Newman G (2009) The water vapor sorption behavior of natural fibers. J Appl Polym Sci 112:1524–1537.

  22. 22

    Placet V, Trivaudey F, Cisse O et al (2012) Diameter dependence of the apparent tensile modulus of hemp fibres: a morphological, structural or ultrastructural effect? Compos Part Appl Sci Manuf 43:275–287.

  23. 23

    Martin N, Mouret N, Davies P, Baley C (2013) Influence of the degree of retting of flax fibers on the tensile properties of single fibers and short fiber/polypropylene composites. Ind Crops Prod 49:755–767.

  24. 24

    Alix S, Colasse L, Morvan C et al (2014) Pressure impact of autoclave treatment on water sorption and pectin composition of flax cellulosic-fibres. Carbohydr Polym 102:21–29.

  25. 25

    Hailwood AJ, Horrobin S (1946) Absorption of water by polymers: analysis in terms of a simple model. Trans Faraday Soc 42:B084–B092.

  26. 26

    Li T, Cheng D, Avramidis S et al (2017) Response of hygroscopicity to heat treatment and its relation to durability of thermally modified wood. Constr Build Mater 144:671–676.

  27. 27

    Thygesen A, Oddershede J, Lilholt H et al (2005) On the determination of crystallinity and cellulose content in plant fibres. Cellulose 12:563–576.

  28. 28

    Li Y, Pickering KL (2008) Hemp fibre reinforced composites using chelator and enzyme treatments. Compos Sci Technol 68:3293–3298.

Download references


The authors are grateful for general and financial support from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS-France) and the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté. C.F. is thankful for a PhD fellowship awarded by the Conseil Régional de Bourgogne (France) in the frame of the “Jeunes Chercheurs Entrepreneurs-2016” program.

Author information

Correspondence to Camille François or Vincent Placet.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

François, C., Placet, V., Beaugrand, J. et al. Can supercritical carbon dioxide be suitable for the green pretreatment of plant fibres dedicated to composite applications?. J Mater Sci 55, 4671–4684 (2020).

Download citation