Effect of Rice Husk as Filler in Vinyl Ester Composites

Effect of Rice Husk as Filler in Vinyl Ester Composites

ABSTRACT

The rising global environmental and social concern, high rate of drop of petroleum resources, and new environmental guidelines has necessitated the search for green composite materials, which are ecofriendly. Agricultural waste fibers have significant potential in composite due to their high strength, environmentally friendly nature, low cost, availability and sustainability. The agricultural waste is one of the most important problems that must be resolved for the conservation of global environment. The potential properties of agro waste fibers have sparked a lot of research to use these fibers as a material to replace man-made fibers for safe and environmentally product. In this study, rice husk fiber (RHF) vinylester composites were produced with rice husk as filler and vinylester resin as the matrix. Several weight percentages of filler loadings were used: 5 wt. %, 10 wt. %, 15 wt. % and 20 wt. % in order to gain insights into the effect of filler content on the mechanical properties of the composites. From the findings, the ultimate tensile strength, tensile modulus and hardness of the rice husks filled vinylester resin composites increased with increasing percentage of RHF up to maximum of 10 wt. % fibers. From these results, we can conclude that RHF can be potentially suitable raw material for manufacturing bio-composites products.

Chapter one

Introduction

1.1       Background to the Study

Recently there has been an increasing interest in the use of biodegradable polymers due to the serious environmental problems arising from used and waste plastics (Rahman et al., 2010). Biodegradable polymers can be obtained from renewable resources, microbially synthesized in the laboratory, or collected from petroluem-based chemicals (Premlal et al., 2002). Nowadays, synthetic polymers are combined with various biodegrable reinforcing fibers in order to improve the mechanical properties and obtain the bio-degradable and other characteristics demanded in actual applications (Yang et al., 2006, 2007; Choi et al., 2006).

Many polymer matrices have been prepared and combined with various types of natural and synthetic reinforcing fibers in order to improve the mechanical properties and obtain the characteristics demanded in actual applications (Yao et al., 2008; Tabari et al., 2011), one of such is polyvinyl ester. Vinyl ester resins have been widely recognized as materials with excellent resistance to a wide variety of commonly encountered chemical environments.  Vinyl ester resins are used to fabricate a variety of reinforced structures, including pipes, tanks, scrubbers and ducts.  They are prime candidates for use in composites for transportation and/or infrastructure.  Such applications include fabrication of parts for automobiles and other surface transportation vehicles, fascia for buildings, reinforcements for bridges, etc.  In addition to these applications, vinyl esters are also being used in coatings, adhesives, molding compounds, structural laminates, electrical applications and military/aerospace applications (Sorathia, 1997).

The use of natural fibers as reinforcements of the composites has received increasing attention both by the academic sector and the industry. Research is being carried out to replace synthetic fibres with lignocellulosic fibres as reinforcing fibers (Thwe and Liao 2002; Park et al., 2003; Yang et al., 2004; Rana et al., 2003; Singleton et al., 2003). Natural fiber have many significant advantages over synthetic filler and fibres such as their light-weight, low cost, sustanability, renewability, ability to reduce abrasion of machinery and also non-toxicity. Currently, many types of natural fibers have been investigated to be used in the industry including flax, hemp, wood, wheat, barley, and oats (Bledzki and Gassan, 1999). They are now fast growing as potential alternatives to inorganic or synthetic materials for various applications as building materials and automotive components (Nourbakhsh et al., 2010; Nourbakhsha et al., 2011).

The physical and mechanical properties of natural fiber composites are largely dependent on the type of matrix, content and properties of the reinforcement fibers and fiber–matrix interaction. Better dispersion of the filler can be achieved by effective mixing of the components and a proper compounding process (Yang et al., 2007). Dhakal et al., (2007) reported that by adding filler in the polymer material, the mechanical properties of the composite such as the strength can be further enhanced. However, it had also been mentioned that the strength of the composites were decreased as the filler content increased. One of the main concerns for the use of natural fibre or filler reinforced composite materials is their vulnerability to moisture absorption and the effect on physical, mechanical and thermal properties (Dhakal et al.,2007). All polymer composites absorb moisture in humid atmosphere and when immersed in water. The effect of absorption of moisture leads to the degradation of filler matrix interface region by creating poor stress transfer efficiencies resulting in a reduction of mechanical properties (Yang et al.,1996).

Rice husk is a by-product of rice milling process that usually finds inadequate final disposal (burning, land filling). Rice husk is one such widely available agro-waste byproduct, which contains cellulose (35%), hemicellulose (25%), lignin (20%), and ash (17% of which silica is 94%), by weight (Anon. 2008). Thermoplastics composites filled with rice husk flour are materials that offer an alternative for using this agricultural resource during the production of low density materials with some specific properties. Rice husks as fibers have advantages over mineral fibers, as they are non-abrasive, require less energy for processing and ability to reduce the density of furnished products. Rice husk (RH) has been used as an alternative filler to commercial silica. Hence, these composites have attracted much attention, and are becoming increasingly important for the production of a wide variety of cheap light-weight environmental friendly composites (Stokke et al., 2001; Hardinnawirda et al.,2012).

1.2       Problem Statement

Productions of composite often involve huge investment in material acquisition. One way of reducing the production cost but still maintaining the properties of the composite is by using natural filler such as rice husks. Rice husk has been chosen due to its their availability, low cost, low density, high specific strength and modulus, and recyclability (Ismail et al., 2001; Ndazi 2001). In the current work, the effect of rice husk as a filler in vinyl ester matrix composites has been studied.

1.3       Objectives

These are the objectives of the current work:

(i)  To determine the effect of different percentages of filler in vinyl ester matrix material using rice husks.

(ii)  To evaluate the mechanical properties of vinyl ester matrix material using rice husk as filler material.

1.4       Scope

The scope of the project include:

(i)  Preparation of rice huskfibers,

(ii)  Preparation of rice huskvinyl composites with different rice husk loading of 5wt %, 10wt%, 15wt% and 20wt%.

(iii)  Several tests such as (a), (b) (c) and (d) have been carried out in order to determine the properties of the composites.

(a) Ultimate tensile strength

(b) Tensile modulus

(c) Tensile strain

(d) Hardness

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