High-Performance-Tensile-Strength Alpha-Grass Reinforced Starch-Based Fully Biodegradable Composites

Though there has been a great deal of work concerning the development of natural fibers in reinforced starch-based composites, there is still more to be done. In general, cellulose fibers have lower strength than glass fibers; however, their specific strength is not far from that of fiberglass. In this work, alpha-fibers were obtained from alpha-grass through a mild cooking process. The fibers were used to reinforce a starch-based biopolymer. Composites including 5 to 35% (w/w) alpha-grass fibers in their formulation were prepared, tested, and subsequently compared with those of wood- and fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene (PP). The term “high-performance” refers to the tensile strength of the studied composites and is mainly due to a good interphase, a good dispersion of the fibers inside the matrix, and a good aspect ratio. The tensile strength of the composites showed a linear evolution for fiber contents up to 35% (w/w). The strain at break of the composites decreased with the fiber content and showed the stiffening effects of the reinforcement. The prepared composites showed high mechanical properties, even approaching those of glass fiber reinforced composites ​
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