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Characterization of flax fibres and the effect of different drying methods for making biocomposites



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As the environmental concern grows, researchers try to find material which can be environmental friendly and biodegradable to some extent. At present, flax fibre cannot fully replace glass fibre. Some attempts have been made to replace the glass fibre. Studies show the physical and mechanical properties of natural fibres are comparable with glass fibre, so it can replace glass fibre in the process of making biocomposites. The properties of biocomposites depend on the fibre used. Research shows that to get a better biocomposite, the fibre has to be chemically treated to improve adhesion between fibre and polymer matrix. After the chemical treatment, the fibre has to be dried to minimum moisture content so the drying of flax fibre is essential in the process of making biocomposites. In this research, oilseed flax fibre is dried and drying characteristics were investigated. After drying, the physical properties of the fibre were tested and analysed. The fibre was dried using three different drying methods, namely, microwave, microwave-convection, and microwave-vacuum environments. Curve fitting with four empirical methods has been carried out to determine the drying constant, coefficient of determination and standard error values. The results showed that microwave-vacuum drying method is more efficient (in terms of final moisture content) than microwave and microwave-convection drying. Although microwave-vacuum drying took the most time and did not result in promising colour values, the maximum moisture removal is achieved because fibres can be dried for a longer period of time with a comparatively low temperature. The results of physical properties were analysed for untreated and treated and dried flax fibre. The tensile strength and elastic modulus of untreated and treated fibre did not show any significant change. Because the diameter of flax fibre cannot be consistent, a range of values can be obtained. The diameter range of fibre bundle 30-300 µm was examined for these tests. The tensile strength obtained from these fibre bundles ranged between 16 to 667 MPa and elastic modulus values were 2 GPa up to 63 GPa. The scanning electron micrograph (SEM) was also analysed for untreated and treated-dried fibre. The fibre which was dried with high power or longer period of time showed black spots, probably due to local heating. The fibre dried with microwave-vacuum developed some black spots which were clearly seen in the SEM. Differential scanning calorimetric data showed a shift in temperature of degradation. In this research, degradation temperature of cellulose was found 350(+/-10)°C for the treated and dried flax fibre. In conclusion, the flax fibre has a potential to be used in biocomposite production. The microwave-vacuum works best for drying where the fibre can be dried up to a less than 1% of moisture content.



microwave drying of flax, characterization of oilseed flax fibre, tensile strength, microwave-vacuum drying of flax, biocomposite, flax fibre, dsc, microwave-convection drying of flax



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering


Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering


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