Impact Properties and Water Uptake Behavior of Old Newspaper Recycled Fibers-Reinforced Polypropylene Composites

Natural fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites can be an alternative to mineral fiber-based composites, especially when economic and environment concerns are included under the material selection criteria. In recent years, the literature has shown how lignocellulosic fiber-reinforced composites can be used for a variety of applications. Nonetheless, the impact strength and the water uptake behavior of such materials have been seen as drawbacks. In this work, the impact strength and the water uptake of composites made of polypropylene reinforced with fibers from recycled newspaper have been researched. The results show how the impact strength decreases with the percentage of reinforcement in a similar manner to that of glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene composites as a result of adding a fragile phase to the material. It was found that the water uptake increased with the increasing percentages of lignocellulosic fibers due to the hydrophilic nature of such reinforcements. The diffusion behavior was found to be Fickian. A maleic anhydride was added as a coupling agent in order to increase the strength of the interface between the matrix and the reinforcements. It was found that the presence of such a coupling agent increased the impact strength of the composites and decreased the water uptake. Impact strengths of 21.3 kJ/m3 were obtained for a coupled composite with 30 wt % reinforcement contents, which is a value higher than that obtained for glass fiber-based materials. The obtained composites reinforced with recycled fibers showed competitive impact strength and water uptake behaviors in comparison with materials reinforced with raw lignocellulosic fibers. The article increases the knowledge on newspaper fiber-reinforced polyolefin composite properties, showing the competitiveness of waste-based materials ​
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