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5th International & 26th All India Manufacturing Technology, Design and Research Conference (AIMTDR 2014) December

12th14th, 2014,
IIT Guwahati, Assam, India

Mechanical Behaviour of Jute Fibre Reinforced Polypropylene


Composites

Temesgen Berhanu1*, Pradeep Kumar2, Inderdeep Singh3


1, 2, 3
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, IITR, Roorkee-247667, UK,
India.

E-Mail: 1*temesgenu11@gmail.com, 2kumarfme@iitr.ac.in, 3inderfme@iitr.ac.in

Abstract
Recently, Jute fibre is being used as a reinforcement material in the development of reinforced plastics for
various engineering applications. Its biodegradability, low cost, and moderate mechanical properties make it a
preferable reinforcement material in the development of polymer matrix composites. Therefore, Jute fibre
reinforced composites have replaced the most widely used synthetic fibre (glass, kevlar) reinforced composites
in many applications. In the present experimental endeavour, Jute fibre-polypropylene reinforced composites
were prepared using compression moulding process. The weight percentage of the fibre reinforcement was
varied as 30, 40 and 50%. The effect of the weight percentage of the Jute fibre reinforcement was investigated
experimentally on the mechanical properties of the developed composites. The mechanical properties were
tested using computerized UTM machine as per the ASTM standards. Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), X-
ray Diffraction (XRD) and Thermal Analysis (TA) have been utilized to fully understand the mechanical
behaviour of developed composites. The results reveal that, the mechanical properties of polypropylene based
composites are substantially improved on account of the addition of the Jute fibre reinforcement. It has also
been observed that the significance of the enhancement of the mechanical properties increased as the weight
percentage of the Jute fibre reinforcement increased up to 40%.

Keywords: Composites, Jute fibre, Mechanical Strength, SEM.

1 Introduction parts. These limitations led to the development of the


thermoplastic matrix composite system. Compared
Technological development mostly depends on with thermosets, composites fabricated from
advancements in the field of engineering materials. thermoplastic materials typically have more shelf life,
Conversely, in any field of endeavour, the final greater strain to failure, rapid consolidation, excellent
hurdle, facing constant advancements, is with chemical resistance, better damping characteristics,
materials. Composite materials in this regard low noise emission, and are repairable. Polypropylene
represent nothing less than a giant step in the ever (PP) is one of the most extensively used thermoplastic
constant effort toward optimization in in industry due to its high chemical and wear
materials,Chawla (1998). Currently, the lightweight of resistance, low cost, easy process-ability and excellent
composites that allows for lower fuel consumption mechanical properties, Mukhopadhyay and Srikanta
has increased their use in a broad range of (2008); Chand and Dwivedi (2006).
applications, including in the aerospace, automotive, Natural fibres become superior alternatives of
and rail sectors. In the aerospace industry, the current synthetic fibres as reinforcements for polymeric
emphasis on fuel efficiency favors the use of polymer composites due to their high flexural modulus and
matrix composites (PMCs) instead of aluminum and impact strength. In addition, natural fibers are
its alloys. Also, the production of a new class of environmentally friendly, biodegradable, abundantly
aircraft - micro-jets has called for an extensive use available, renewable with low density and cheap. The
of lightweight composites. In the automotive industry, biodegradability of natural fibres can contribute to a
manufacturers are recognizing the advantages of healthy ecosystem while their low cost and high
weight reduction, parts consolidation, and design performance fulfils the economic benefits of
freedom that PMCs afford,Mazumdar industries. Applications of natural fiber based
(2002);Brostowet al. (2010). polymeric composites are found in such products as
So far, most of the PMC materials used in housing construction materials, furniture, and
different sectors are principally fabricated using automotive parts,Larbiget al.(1998);Eleiche and
thermosetting matrices. However, thermosets have Amin(1986);Nirmalet al. (2010); El-Tayeb(2008).
inherent disadvantages such as brittleness, long cure Pineapple leaf, oil palm fibre, hemp, sisal, Jute,
cycles, and difficult to repair and recycle damaged kapok, rice husk, bamboo, and wood are some of the

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Mechanical Behaviour of Jute Fibre Reinforced Polypropylene Composites

natural fibres most commonly used as reinforcement mould set with heating arrangement.The woven Jute
materials in polymer composites, Gujjalaet al. fabric and the polymer sheets were arranged one over
(2013).Among all the plant fibres, Jute appears to be the other in the mould. And the woven Jute fabric was
the most useful, and inexpensive fiber, that can be kept between the two polymer sheets. To prevent
moulded to different shapes,Zamanet al.(2010). sticking of polymer sheets to the mould plates, 2 mm
However, it has a downside that may pale these thickness Teflon sheets were used on the top and
advantages: Jute fibre shares the major weakness of bottom. The melting temperature of Teflon sheet is
all natural fibres such as low thermal resistance, too high as compared to the functioning temperature
hygroscopic in nature, inherent polarity, less of PP. The entire assembly was hot pressed with a
dimensional stability, and anisotropic fibre properties. temperature of 1650C, and 4MPa pressure, for 8 min.
These disadvantages cause in weak fibre-resin At this temperature, PP melts and impregnates Jute
interaction,Khanet al.(2013). fabric and compaction occurs. Later the pressure was
The mechanical propertiesof a natural fibre- increased to 6 MPa for 2 min, andthen the composite
polymer matrix composite are controlled mainly by was cooled under pressure. Finally removal of
the efficiency of the bonding at the fibre-matrix composite laminatestake place from the mould at
interfacial boundary. The principal function of the 800C. The experimental composites were prepared by
interface is to facilitate the transfer of stress from varying the weight percentage of the fibre
fibre to fibre, across the matrix,Sangthonget al. reinforcement to 30, 40, and 50 percent. The
(2009). Numerous research studies conducted over the schematic of the composite fabrication process is
last decade have reported successful use of natural shown in Figure 1.
fibres as reinforcement to enhance the mechanical
properties of the poly-matrix composites,
Mukhopadhyayand Srikanta (2008);Larbiget
al.(1998);Eleiche and Amin (1986); Nirmalet al.
(2010); El-Tayeb (2008); Sangthonget al. (2009); El-
Shekeilet al. (2012); Bledzkiet al. (2009). By contrast,
We dont find much work reported particularly on the
woven Jute fibre mat reinforced polypropylene matrix
composite, Gujjalaet al. (2013); Khan et al.
(2010);Zamanet al. (2010);Zamanet al (2009); Shah
andLakkad(1981);Gowdaet al. (1999). Therefore, the
aim of the current study is to investigate the effect of
weight percentage of Jute fibre reinforcement on the
mechanical properties of polypropylene based
composites.
Figure 1 Schematic of PMC fabrication process
2 Materials and Experimental Details
2.1 Materials 2.3 Mechanical behaviour of developed composites
Representative specimens from various sections
The basic raw materials used to prepare the of the composite were prepared, according to ASTM
experimental composites are Polypropylene (PP) D638 and ASTM D 790 standard, to examine the
pellets, as matrix material, and Jute (J)fabrics (in the tensile and bending (flexural) strength of the
form of woven fabric), as reinforcement. The composites, respectively. The size of the sample used
Polypropylene (PP) was supplied by Reliance for tensile strength test was 165 mm x 19 mm x
Industries Limited, Park Chembur, Mumbai, India, in 3.2mm, and of one used for the three-point bending
the form of homo polymer pellets .The polymer has a test, 76 mm x 25 mm x 3.2 mm with span length of
density of 0.905 g/cm3 at room temperature. The 56mm. The tests were done using a Kalpak
melting temperature (Tm ) and melt flow index are Computerized Universal testing machines model KIC-
165C and 10.5 g/10 min., respectively. The Jute fibre 2-XXX-C with Series IX software (Canton, MA),
in the form of woven fabric was procured from which has a maximum capacity of 30kN. All tests
Womens Development Organization (WDO), were performedwith a crosshead speed of 1mm/min at
Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India. roomtemperature (25C) and at a relative humidity of
50. Five specimens were tested for each sample and
the mean values are reported.
2.2 Preparation of PMC
Initially, polypropylene sheets of size 150mm 2.4 Material characterization
x80mm x1mm were prepared by melting and
compressing pre-weighed polypropylene pellets on a Morphological observation of specimens was
compression moulding set up, which consists of a done at room temperature using model XL 30, Philips
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The specimen

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5th International & 26th All India Manufacturing Technology, Design and Research Conference (AIMTDR 2014) December 12th14th, 2014,
IIT Guwahati, Assam, India

was coated with a very thin film of gold using Sputter also observed that relatively less fibre pull-outs and
Coater to enhance conductivity before micrographs debonding were observed for 40 Wt% fibre
were taken. The XRD patterns of reinforcement reinforcement. Moreover, 40 Wt.%Jute-PP composite
samplewas documented at room temperature in a shows better distribution of the fibre intothe matrix,
diffractometer (Bruker AXS) with Cu K radiation which helps in better interfacial tie between Jute fibre
and Ni filter. Thermal decomposition was also and matrix. The effect of better interfacial bonding
conducted using EXSTAR TG/DTA 6300, thermo between the Jute fibre and the matrix is clearly
gravimetric analyser at a rate of heating 10 C/min observed in the mechanical properties improvement,
from 30 C to 500 C. Prepared specimens were Bledzkiet al. (2009).
tested in dry atmospheric air at a purge rate of 200
ml/min. A 10 mg mass of sample was taken for each
experiment.
3 Results and Discussion
3.1XRD Analysis
The X-ray diffractogarms of the Jute fabric fibre
presented in Fig. 2 shows that the major crystalline
peak found at diffraction angle (2) of 22.8737.
Other smaller and sharp peaks occur at a diffraction
angle of 14.8742 and 16.6541. The cell walls of the
plant fibres mainly consist of cellulose, hemicellulose,
and lignin. Cellulose consists of both amorphous and
crystalline regions, although lignin and hemicellulose
are amorphous. As reported earlier, when the amount
of amorphous cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose in
the fibres increases, this peak shows low intensity and
becomes fuzzy in the diffractograms, as these Figure 3 SEM micrograph of tensile fractured
constituents are amorphous in nature. However, the surface of Jute fibre reinforced PP composite at
peak becomes clearer and well defined in the Wt.% of fibre a) 30%, b) 40% and c) 50%.
diffractograms when the content of crystalline
cellulose is high in the plant fibre,Nishino et al.
3.3 Thermal analysis
(2003);Jayaramudu et al. (2010);Lei et al. (2007).
Essential statements regarding the thermal
stability of the natural fibres to beprocessed are
obtained from the thermogravimetric analyses (TGA).

Figure 2 XRD pattern of Jute fibre at 2/min


for 2 angles 5-50.
3.2 SEM images and morphology

The SEM images of the tensile fracture surface


morphologies of Jute-PP composites prepared with
30, 40 and 50 Wt% of Jute are shown in Figure 3.The
morphological properties of the tensile fractured
surface shows the variation in mechanical properties
through phase information of the fabricated
composites specimens. Figure 3(c) shows that a large
Figure 4Thermogravimetric curves for a) PP, b)
number of fibre bundles were found, which indicate
Jute,c) 30%, d)40 and e)50% Jute/PP composite
that these fibres were not properly wet by the PP resin
and thus led to poor stress transfer efficiency. It was

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Mechanical Behaviour of Jute Fibre Reinforced Polypropylene Composites

The TGA curve for the Jutefiber is poor as 3.4 Tensile strength
compared to that of the neat polypropylene matrix,
Jute fiber reinforcement effect on the tensile
indicating Jute fibres lesser thermal stability. As
strength and modulus of polypropylene matrix is
shown in Figure 4(b), the first mass loss, in the range
demonstrated in Figure 5(a) and 5(b). As depicted in
of 20100 C, is due to evaporation of moisture. The
the figure 5(a), the tensile strength increased linearly
second mass loss between 200C and 400C is due
up to 40 Wt%, after that it tends to decrease despite
to the decomposition of the: hemi-cellulose, cellulose
the further rise in the Wt% of fibre reinforcement.
and lignin . Overall, the thermal disintegration of
This may be associated with the fact that, as theWt%
plant fibres comprises of four phases. The initial
of the reinforcement fibre increased, the weak
phase involves the breakdown of hemicelluloses,
interfacial area and the micro spaces increased
tracked by that of cellulose, and of lignin, and forth of
between the fibre and the matrix, accordingly bringing
their ash, Wielageet al. (1999);Sahariet al. (2013).
down the tensile strength. It is also true that, at high
Yang et al. (2007) documented similar findings,
percentage reinforcement, it is more difficult for the
at 220C hemicellulose starts to decompose and
resin to fully impregnate the fibres thus leading to
decayed at 315C. As soon as hemicelluloses is
poor interfacial bonding and consequently lower
completely decomposed, the second phase, the
mechanical properties. Thus, poor wetting results in
decomposition of cellulose, begins. Cellulose is
poor stress transfer efficiency across the fibre-resin
relatively thermally stable due to its highly crystalline
interface, which leads to agglomeration, and stress
rather than amorphous - nature. Its decomposition
transfer gets blocked. As a result, there is a decreasing
doesnt commence before hemicelluloses is
trend in tensile strength with increasing fibre content
completelydecomposed. The third phase involves the
in the composite.Whereas as shown in Figure 5(b) the
decay of lignin, the hardest to decompose compared
tensile modulus increased with the increasing of Wt.
to hemicelluloses and cellulose. Although, it
% of the Jute fibre. This may be due to the fact that
decomposes slowly and it takes as high as 900 C
further rise in the Wt. % of Jute fibre in to the
temperature to complete its decomposition, Lignin is a
polypropylene matrix reduces the matrix mobility,
very tough component and known as the compound
which increases the stiffness of the
that gives rigidity to the plant materials. Finally, at the
composite,Sangthonget al.(2009); El-Shekeilet al.
end of its complete decomposition, lignin leaves
(2012).
inorganic remains in the fibre, which can be
considered as ash content.
Regarding the polypropylene material, (Figure.
4(a)), the initial decrease in weight loss observed at a
temperature of above 100C was due to moisture loss
from the material. Above the melting temperature of
about 165C, the polymer is subject to a thermal
degradation that is both dependent on time as well as
on temperature.
TGA experimental values of the 30, 40 and 50%
Jute/PP are shown in Table 1. The percentage residual
weight of the composite specimen shows better values
with 40% Jute/ PP. This is in line with the mechanical
behavior which may be due to better interfacial Figure 5aEffect of Jute fibreWt% on tensile
characteristics with the Polypropylene polymer. strength

Table 1 TGA experimental results


Temperature (c)

TG 100 200 300 400 500 800


(%)

30%J/ 97.8 96.8 92.5 75.3 6.1 1.9


PP
40%J/ 98.4 97.4 93.6 78.9 6.7 2.6
PP
50%J/ 97.3 95.9 90.8 66.7 5.7 1.7
PP
Figure 5bEffect of Jute fibreWt% on tensile
modulus

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5th International & 26th All India Manufacturing Technology, Design and Research Conference (AIMTDR 2014) December 12th14th, 2014,
IIT Guwahati, Assam, India

3.5 Flexural strength 1. This investigation has found that the 40 Wt % Jute
fibre reinforced PP composite exhibited the highest
Figures 6(a) and 6(b)illustrate the flexural
tensile strength. However, the tensile strength
strength and modulus of Jute reinforced composite at
decreased with further increase in the Wt% of Jute
different fibre weight content. Figure 6(a) shows
fibre reinforcement. By contrast, tensile modulus
flexural strength going up linearly with an increase in
uniformly increased with increase in Wt% of Jute
the amount of Jute fibre reinforcement up to 40%;
fibre reinforcement.
then, abruptly, the value of the strength starts going
2. The flexural strength linearly increased until the
down while the fibre reinforcement was further
amount of Jute fibre reinforcement reached about
increased. This may be due to the tensile and
40%, and then suddenly went down with further
compressive stresses created as the result of flexural
increase in the fibre reinforcement. In contrast to
test, and various defects (kinks) happen due to fibre
flexural strength, the flexural modulus demonstrated a
compression. These fibre defects or kinks produce
rising trend with an increase in the fibre reinforcement
fibre ends with stress concentration sites, as the fibre
content. However, after 40 Wt% the significance of
content increases beyond the 40%( optimalfiber-
the enhancement of the flexural strength was not
matrix ratio) the crack initiation points increase due to
much.
high stress concentration at the fibre ends. As a result
3. The SEM images of the tensile fracture surface
there will be weak adhesion of the polypropylene with
morphologies of Jute-PP composites reveal that
the Jute fibre, accordingly flexural strength decreases.
relatively less fibre pullouts and debonding was
In contrast to flexural strength, the flexural modulus
observed for 40Wt% fibre reinforcement. In addition,
exhibited an increasing trend with an increase in
40% Jute-PP composites show better dispersion of the
amount of fibre reinforcement.
fibre intothe matrix.
4. Thermo-gravimetric analyses of Jute and
polypropylene have proved the thermal stability of the
developed composites.
5. In general, under the current experimental
conditions, 40 Wt% is the optimum Jute fibre
reinforcement for reinforcing polypropylene matrix.

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