A Study of chemical treatments and processing for banana fiber-reinforced LDPE composites.
Natural fiber-reinforced polymeric composites have been gaining popularity due to their low weight and high sustainability potential. Banana pseudo-stem fibers in particular present a unique opportunity for reinforcement since they are widely grown and are currently considered an agricultural waste product. However, poor bonding between the hydrophilic fiber and a comparatively hydrophobic thermoplastic matrix, such as LDPE, have limited composite properties. This study looks at two known natural fiber treatments designed to promote interfacial bonding, peroxide and permanganate treatment, and documents their effect on banana pseudo-stem fibers and a banana fiber/LDPE injection molded composite. It was found that peroxide treatment enhances the strength of individual fibers but is thermally unstable. Permanganate treatment decreases the moisture absorption of the fibers and improves interfacial bonding but provides no advantage over untreated fibers in composite properties. This study also looks into special processing considerations for injection molding natural fiber composite parts.