Methodologies to Evaluate the Micromechanics Flexural Strength Properties of Natural-Fiber-Reinforced Composites: The Case of Abaca-Fiber-Reinforced Bio Polyethylene Composites

There is growing emphasis on developing green composites as a substitute for oil-based materials. In the pursuit of studying and enhancing the mechanical properties of these composites, tensile tests are predominantly employed, often overlooking the flexural properties. This study focuses on researching the flexural properties of abaca-fiber-reinforced bio-based high-density polyethylene (BioPE) composites. Specifically, composites containing 30 wt% of abaca fiber (AF) were treated with a coupling agent based on polyethylene functionalized with maleic acid (MAPE). The test results indicate that incorporating 8 wt% of the coupling agent significantly improved the flexural strength of the composites. Thereafter, composites with AF content ranging from 20 to 50 wt% were produced and subjected to flexural testing. It was observed that flexural strength was positively correlated with AF content. A micromechanics analysis was conducted to evaluate the contributions of the phases. This analysis involved assessing the mechanical properties of both the reinforcement and matrix to facilitate the modeling of flexural strength. The findings of this study demonstrate the feasibility of replacing oil-based matrices, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), with fully bio-based composites that exhibit comparable flexural properties to their oil-based counterparts ​
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