Mechanical and Biodegradable Properties of Jute/Flax Reinforced PLA Composites
Green composites possessing biodegradable or recyclable characteristics have gained interest in recent years due to their ecofriendly, sustainable and lightweight characteristics over the conventional plastic-based materials. In this study, flax and jute natural fibers have been used individually and as hybrid reinforcement into Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) matrix. The composites developed are suitable to be used in biodegradable products in packaging and automobile industries. Hot press compression molding was used to fabricate samples of PLA/flax, PLA/jute and PLA/flax/jute (hybrid composites). The concentration of natural fibers in individual fiber-based composites was varied (between 0–50 %) by weight to investigate its effect on tensile and impact properties. Maximum tensile properties were obtained for 40 wt% single-fiber reinforced into PLA. This reinforcement content (40 wt%) was used as reference for hybrid composites. Hybrid composites were fabricated with different combinations of jute and flax fibers by keeping the total concentration of reinforcement equal to 40 % by weight. Tensile and Charpy impact tests were performed to evaluate the mechanical properties of the composites. Scanning Electron Microscopy of the tensile fractured surfaces was performed to observe the failure mechanism and adhesion at fibermatrix interfaces in the composites. Further characterizations included Fourier Transform Infra-Red spectroscopy and Biodegradability tests, which were performed according to ASTM standards. Fourier Transform Infrared analysis revealed interaction between the natural fibers (jute and flax) and PLA matrix in hybrid composites. The enhanced interaction in hybrid composites resulted in their improved impact resistance. Based on the results obtained in this study, the improved mechanical and biodegradable properties of these composites make it suitable for use in applications like food-packaging and indoor plastic products in automobiles, to reduce synthetic plastic pollution.