The Evolution of the Intrinsic Flexural Strength of Jute Strands after a Progressive Delignification Process and Their Contribution to the Flexural Strength of PLA-Based Biocomposites

Biocomposites from poly-(lactic acid) (PLA) and jute strands were prepared, and their flexural strength was analyzed. Jute strands were submitted to a progressive delignification process and the resulting morphology, composition, and crystallinity index were evaluated. Then, PLA biocomposites comprising 30 wt% of jute strands were produced and characterized under flexural conditions. The delignification processes decreased the lignin content and progressively increased the cellulose content. All this resulted in an enhancement of the composite flexural strength. A modified rule of mixtures, and the relation between tensile and flexural properties were used to determine the intrinsic flexural strength (of the jute strands) and their correlation with their physic-chemical characteristics. Equations correlating the intrinsic flexural strength with the crystallinity index, the cellulose content, and the microfibril angle were proposed. These equations show the impact of these properties over the intrinsic properties of the fibers and can help researchers to select appropriate fibers to obtain accurate properties for the composites. Jute strands show their value as reinforcement by increasing the flexural strength of the matrix by 70% and being less expensive and more environmentally friendly than mineral reinforcements. Together with the profitability and the environmental advantages, the mechanical results suggest that these PLA biocomposites are suitable for specific products of different market sectors ​
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