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A Comparative Study on the Utilization of Talahib (Saccharum spontaneum) Fibers in

Natural Fiber-Reinforced Polymer Composites (NFPCs) Based on Chemical Treatments Used

A science investigatory project plan submitted as partial fulfilment and the requirement in
Research IIB
Group 6 -9-Pascal
Nacpil, Keiffer Eric
Quitiol, Adan Flloyd
Tabarnero, Loerdstein Jyrus
Cezar, Jalen Jhudiel
Ignacio, Kirsten Noelle
Quinto, Noelle Naomi


December 2016

Talahib plants (Saccharum spontaneum) are considered as an agricultural problem to
many farmers in the Philippines due to their nutrient absorbing properties, which damages
other plants near it, thus becoming a threat to crops. Because of this, they are often cut and
thrown away, which is ineffective due to their massive production. To resolve the problem, a
possible solution is found. Talahib fibers may be used as a fiber-reinforcement in producing
A composite, also known as Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composite, is a
combination of two or more materials. Composites are produced using a polymer matrix that
is fortified with an engineered, artificial, or natural fiber (glass, carbon, aramid), or other
strengthening materials. The matrix shields the fibers from environmental and external harm
and transfers the load between the fibers. The fibers, thusly, provide strength and firmness to
reinforce the matrix and help it resist splits and cracks. (Composites Lab)
Composite materials may have additional characteristics like resistance to moisture or
corrosion and usually have more strength or durability than other products. Some examples of
composite materials are fiber cement, fiber-reinforced composite and thermoplastics or
composite wood products (E. Beach, 2015).
Composites are light in weight, compared to most woods and metals. For example,
less weight means better fuel efficiency. People who design airplanes are greatly concerned
with weight, since reducing a crafts weight reduces the amount of fuel it needs and increases
the speeds it can reach. Some modern airplanes are built with more composites than metal
including the new Boeing 787, Dreamliner. High Strength Composites can be designed to be
far stronger than aluminum or steel. All metals are almost strong in all directions. But
composites can be engineered to be strong in a more specific direction. Strength-to-weight
ratio is a materials strength in relation to how much it weighs. Some materials are very
strong and heavy, such as steel. Moreover, composite materials can be designed to be both
strong and light. A composite can also be made to resist bending in one direction. They have
the highest strength-to-weight ratios in structures today and can resist damage from tough
weather and from many harsh chemicals that can eat away at other materials. Composites are
good choices where chemicals are handled or stored. Outdoors, they can stand up to severe or
harsh weather and wide changes in temperature. They can also be made to absorb impacts
the sudden force of a bullet. Because of this property, composites are used in bulletproof
vests and panels, and, buildings, and military vehicles from explosions or bullets.
Composites can be molded into complicated shapes more easily than most other
materials. This gives designers the freedom to create almost any shape or form. The surface
of composites can also be molded to mimic any surface finish or texture, from smooth to
A single piece of composite materials can replace an entire assembly of metal parts.
Reducing the number of parts in a machine or a structure saves time and cuts down on the
maintenance needed over the life of an item. They retain their shape and size when they are
hot or cool, wet or dry. Wood, on the other hand, swells and shrinks as the humidity changes.
Composites can be a better choice in situations demanding tight fits that do not vary.
Composites are nonconductive, meaning they do not conduct electricity. This property
makes them suitable for such items as electrical utility poles and the circuit boards in
electronics. If electrical conductivity is needed, it is possible to make some composites
conductive. In addition, composites contain no metals; therefore, they are not magnetic. They
can be used around sensitive electronic equipment. The lack of magnetic interference allows
large magnets used in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) equipment to perform better.

Radar signals pass right through composites, a property that makes composites ideal
materials for use anywhere radar equipment is operating, whether on the ground or in the air.
Composites are good insulators they do not easily conduct heat or cold. They are used in
buildings for doors, panels, and windows where extra protection is needed from severe
Structures made of composites have a long life and need little maintenance. We do not
know how long composites last, because we have not come to the end of the life of many
original composites. Many composites have been in service for half a century.
In order to improve the properties of composites with the use of natural resources,
fibers are used as reinforcement for them. These composites are called Natural FiberReinforced Polymers (NFRP). Natural fibers have low density, low cost, and are
biodegradable. However, natural fibers in composites have poor compatibility between fiber
and matrix and the relative high moisture absorption. Therefore, chemical treatments are
considered in modifying the fiber surface properties. (Li, X., Tabil, L., and Panigrahi, S.,
Natural fibers, in a brief description, are fibers that are not engineered or artificial.
They can either be obtained from plants or animals. (Ticaolu, Aravinthan, & Cardona, 2010).
As far as composites are concerned, one solution could be to use natural fibres instead
of more traditional glass and carbon fibres. Natural fibres are renewable, they are
biodegradable in appropriate circumstances and use a biopolymer as matrix the potential
advantages of such BioHybrid Composites (BHC) would be:

less energy used than with traditional materials;

lower pollution levels during production;

CO2-neutral processing and burning;

photosynthesis of the plant growth fixates CO2 and produces oxygen;

no need to use fertilizers and pesticides;

lower costs
In composites, natural fibres can compete with synthetic fibres because of their lower density
and because they are healthier to work with and less abrasive to the tooling equipment. Their
low density and bonded energy makes it possible to recycle laminates.
Xylanase is an enzyme produced by microorganisms that usually has an important
role in human digestion. This is very useful for smaller organisms since it permits them to
extract supplements from vegetable matter that has many fibers. These same properties
additionally make xylanase industrially essential in light of the fact that it can separate plant
fiber for a variety of uses from dough conditioning to papermaking. (Dr. Edward Group DC,
Chemical compound containing two oxygen atoms, each of which is attached to the
next and to a radical or some component other than oxygen; e.g., in hydrogen peroxide
(H2O2) the molecules are joined together in the chainlike structure H-O-O-H. Peroxides are
temperamental, discharging oxygen when warmed, and are powerful oxidizing agents.
Peroxides may be formed directly by the reaction of an element or compound with oxygen.
The comparison will determine a better chemical treatment in formulating a talahib
(Saccharum spontaneum) NFPC and ascertain the best talahib (Saccharum spontaneum)
NFPC to be consumable for industrial purposes.

Materials and Methods

Talahib stalks will be obtained from UP Diliman. The leaves will be removed and the
stalks will be cut into 4 inches.
A talahib plant will be brought to Jose Vera Santos Memorial Herbarium, Institute of
Biology, University of the Philippines, Diliman for verification and authentication to make
sure that the plant is a talahib (Saccharum spontaneum) plant.
The materials will be obtained from different locations. 6% hydrogen peroxide will be
obtained from Bambang Blumentritt, Manila and the xylanase will be obtained from the
University of the Philippines Los Baos, Laguna. Sodium hydroxide and acetic acid will be
obtained from the Green Materials laboratory in UP Diliman, Department of Chemical
Engineering Building together with the lab apparatus. Ethyl acetate, which is a component in
the acid solution, will be obtained from Chemline along Mindanao Avenue.
For the first fiber mat, which will be produced by treating it with alkali (NaOH)
solution and will be labelled as Fiber mat A. Cellulose from the plant will be separated from
the lignin through the pulping method. To do the pulping method, immerse the pieces of
talahib stalks into aqueous 5% Volume NaOH solution for 2 days. NaOH solution or sodium
hydroxide will be the main key of white liquor solution to separate lignin from cellulose
fibers. Afterwards, they will be cooked for 9 hours and be washed 3 times with distilled water
to neutralize it. They will be cooked in an acid solution to dissolve the lignin and separate the
plant fibers. By combining water, acetic acid, and ethyl acetate will create a remarkable
solvent for dissolving lignin, which makes the glue that will hold wood fibers together after
dissolving lignin as it separates the plant fiber (Young, 1986, February). The fibers will also
be washed to remove the acid solution, and the pulp will be soft and fibrous. Metal sheets and
clamps will be used as a pulp screen to sweep the mat of pulp out of the water. While cooking
and washing, the waste product called black liquor will be obtained and removed using a
strainer to separate harmful impurities from pulp with minimal fiber loss and acceptable cost
level. Pulp from cooking will always contain some unwanted solid materials. Some of them
may not have been fiberized properly and some of the fibrous material may not be completely
in true form of individual fibers. The fiber mats will be cut into 2 by 2 sized samples.
(Tumolva et al., 2014)
The fiber mat B will undergo enzymatic treatment with the use of Xylanase. The
fibers will be pre-treated by soaking it with 5% volume alkali (NaOH) solution for 2 days.
After soaking, it will be washed with distilled water to get rid of the excess alkali solution,
then it will be dried for 2 days. The pre-treated fiber will be soaked 100 % by weight
Xylanase in water for 8 hours. Then it will be cooked in acid solution for 9 hours and will be
washed to remove the acid solution. A strainer will be used to get the mat of pulp out of the
water. The mat within the metal sheets with clamps will be put in an oven for 1 hour to dry.
The fiber mat will be cut into 2 by 2 size samples.
The fiber mat C will be produced using fibers that will go through Bleaching
Treatment. Talahib fibers will be treated with 6% peroxide in water for 30 and 45 minutes.
After treatments,the fibers will be washed with distilled water and dried in hot air oven at

50oC for 5 hours. The treated fibers will be cooked in an acid solution for 9 hours and will be
washed to remove the acid solution. A strainer will be used to get the mat of pulp out of the
water. The mat within the metal sheets with clamps will be put in an oven for 1 hour to dry.
The fiber mat will be cut into 2 by 2 size samples.
The fiber mats will be reinforced with unsaturated polyester using three different
coupling agents. The setup will have 3 fiber mats for each type of coupling agent.
When the composite is done, UTM (Universal Testing Machine), which uses Youngs
modulus test, will be used to test its strength. Youngs modulus measures the resistance of a
material to elastic (recoverable) deformation under load. It is equal to elastic stress/strain.
Specific stiffness (more properly called specific modulus) is Youngs modulus/density it is
mostly used for comparing materials so the units are not important (Youngs Modulus and
Specific Stiffness Overview, 2016).
The results will be compared to know which treatment will be the most preferable
with natural fibers.

Beach, E. (2015, August 30). What are some uses of composite materials? Retrieved from
Philippine Textile Research Institute - Physical and Chemical Testing and Evaluation of
Fiber, Yarn, Fabric and Allied Products. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2016, fromp
Tumolva, P. (2014). Characterization of talahib (Saccharum spontaneum) in natural fiber
reinforced polymer (NFRP) using xylanase as coupling agent.pdf. Retrieved January 14,
2016, from
Youngs Modulus and Specific Stiffness Overview. (2002, January 31). Retrieved February 14,
2016, from
Pretreatment of Natural Fibers. (2009). Retrieved from