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Durability of Starch Based Biodegradable Plastics Reinforced with Manila Hemp Fibers

Abstract

The biodegradability of Manila hemp fiber reinforced biodegradable plastics was studied for 240 days in a natural soil and 30 days in a compost soil. After biodegradability tests, weights were measured and both tensile strength tests and microscopic observation were performed to evaluate the biodegradation behavior of the composites. The results indicate that the tensile strength of the composites displays a sharp decrease for up to five days, followed by a gradual decrease. The weight loss and the reduction in tensile strength of biodegradable composite materials in the compost soil are both significantly greater than those buried in natural soil. The biodegradability of these composites is enhanced along the lower portion because this area is more easily attacked by microorganisms.

1. Introduction

In recent years, global concerns have included zero-emissions and increased recycling. Fiber reinforced plastics (FRP), including glass and carbon fiber reinforced plastics, have good characteristics, such as being lightweight, exhibiting high strength, and having excellent corrosion resistance. Therefore, these conventional FRP are extensively used in a wide range of fields, including automobile parts, electric products and sporting goods. However, conventional FRP impact the environment in two distinct ways. First, they are made from fossil fuels. Moreover, they are non-biodegradable, and thus exacerbate landfill shortage problems. From this perspective, the usage and disposal of conventional FRP clearly contribute to the global concerns of zero-emissions and recycling and emphasis needs to be placed on the situation involving FRP once they have been disposed.

In order to realize a sustainable society, it is essential that environmentally friendly or totally biodegradable composite materials are developed [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15]. Most of the current composites comprise biodegradable plastics and a wide variety of natural plant fibers, such as flax [1,2], pineapple [3,4], bamboo [5,6,7], hemp [8,9,10], cotton [10,11], kenaf [10,12,13], ramie [14] and Manila hemp [15]. In recent years, therefore, concern has been raised regarding the fabrication of biodegradable composite materials and their subsequent mechanical properties, such as tensile strength, flexural strength, impact strength and interface strength. From a practical point of view, several studies [16,17] have examined the biodegradability of simple biodegradable plastics, while few studies have examined the biodegradability behavior and long-term durability of the biodegradable composite materials using natural fiber bundles. Evaluating not only the mechanical properties of biodegradable composite materials but also their degradability in soil or compost is equally as important.

The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the biodegradability of biodegradable composite materials and their time-dependent mechanical properties. Specimens of biodegradable composite materials were fabricated from Manila hemp fiber bundles for reinforcement and starch-based biodegradable plastics as a matrix. These specimens were exposed for 240 days to a natural soil and 30 days to a compost soil generated using a garbage-processing machine. After the biodegradability tests, weights were measured and both tensile strength tests and microscopic observation were performed to evaluate the biodegradation behavior, weight loss and decrease in strength of the biodegradable composite materials.

2. Experimental Procedures

2.1. Materials

Manila hemp fiber reinforced biodegradable plastics (MHFRP) were made from Manila hemp fiber bundles for the reinforcement and starch-based emulsion-type biodegradable plastics (CP300; Miyoshi Oil & Fat Co., Ltd., Japan) as the matrix. This plastic contains fine particles (4.6 μm diameter) suspended in an aqueous solution with a mass content of approximately 40%. Long hemp fiber bundles (100 to 200 μm diameter; 200 mm length) without any surface treatment, were used in the present study.

2.2. Specimen molding method

At first, prepregs were produced by placing the emulsion-type biodegradable resin on the surface of the Manila hemp fiber bundles. These prepregs were then dried at 105 °C for 7.2 ks in an oven. Next, MHFRP specimens were compression molded in a hot-press machine. The prepregs were set in a metallic mold, and then heated to 130 °C. The metallic mold was held at 130 °C for 0.3 ks, and the specimens were subsequently hot-pressed at 130 °C and at 10 MPa for 0.6 ks. The dimensions of the fabricated unidirectional long fiber reinforced composite materials are 10 mm × 200 mm × 1 mm. The fiber content of all specimens is fixed to be 50% by weight. A photograph of a fabricated MHFRP specimen is shown in Figure 1 .

Durability of Starch Based Biodegradable Plastics Reinforced with Manila Hemp Fibers Abstract The biodegradability of Manila hemp fiber reinforced biodegradable plastics was studied for 240

Analysis of Hemp

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Background on Hemp

Analysis of Hemp at Celignis

Celignis Analytical can determine the following properties of Hemp samples:

Lignocellulosic Properties of Hemp

Cellulose Content of Hemp

Hemp can have a high cellulose content. This is a principal reason why this feedstock is often used in fibre production.

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Hemicellulose Content of Hemp

Xylose is the major sugar, by mass, in hemp hemicelluloses.

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Lignin Content of Hemp

The lignin content of hemp will vary significantly according to the anotomical component of the plant that is being analysed.

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Starch Content of Hemp

The starch content of hemp varies between the different anatomical components of the plant. Typically it is highest in the leaves, where photosynthesis takes place, and lower in the stems. The starch content can also vary according to the maturity of the plant.

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Uronic Acid Content of Hemp

Uronic acids are present in the hemicelluloses in hemp and are typically more abundant in the early-stages of growth. Furthermore, the concentrations of uronic acids tends to be greatest in the nodes, lower in the internodes, and at intermediate levels in the leaves.

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Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Hemp

We can undertake tests involving the enzymatic hydrolysis of Hemp. In these experiments we can either use a commercial enzyme mix or you can supply your own enzymes. We also offer analysis packages that compare the enzymatic hydrolysis of a pre-treated sample with that of the native original material.

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Bioenergy Properties of Hemp

Ash Content of Hemp

The ash content of hemp will vary significantly according to the anotomical component of the plant that is being analysed.

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Heating (Calorific) Value of Hemp

The heating value of hemp will depend both on its chemical composition and on its moisture content.

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Ash Melting Behaviour of Hemp

Ash melting, also known as ash fusion and ash softening, can lead to slagging, fouling and corrosion in boilers which may reduce conversion efficiency. We can determine the ash melting behaviour of Hemp using our Carbolite CAF G5 BIO ash melting furnace. It can record the following temperatures:

Ash Shrinkage Starting Temperature (SST) – This occurs when the area of the test piece of Hemp ash falls below 95% of the original test piece area.

Ash Deformation Temperature (DT) – The temperature at which the first signs of rounding of the edges of the test piece occurs due to melting.

Ash Hemisphere Temperature (HT) – When the test piece of Hemp ash forms a hemisphere (i.e. the height becomes equal to half the base diameter).

Ash Flow Temperature (FT) – The temperature at which the Hemp ash is spread out over the supporting tile in a layer, the height of which is half of the test piece at the hemisphere temperature.

Click here to see the Celignis Analysis Packages that determine Ash Melting Behaviour

Major and Minor Elements in Hemp

Examples of major elements that may be present in Hemp include potassium and sodium which are present in biomass ash in the forms of oxides. These can lead to fouling, ash deposition in the convective section of the boiler. Alkali chlorides can also lead to slagging, the fusion and sintering of ash particles which can lead to deposits on boiler tubes and walls.

We can also determine the levels of 13 different minor elements (such as arsenic, copper, and zinc) that may be present in Hemp.

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Analysis of Hemp for Anaerobic Digestion

Biomethane potential (BMP) of Hemp

There have been a number of studies concerning the use of industrial hemp as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion. These have shown the biochemical methane potential (BMP) to be around 200-250 litres per kg of volatile solids.

Studies that investigated the use of thermal and/or chemical pre-treatments to make the lignocellulosic matrix of hemp more amenable to anaerobic digestion have typically shown significantly increased BMP values as a result.

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Physical Properties of Hemp

Bulk Density of Hemp

At Celignis we can determine the bulk density of biomass samples, including Hemp, according to ISO standard 17828 (2015). This method requires the biomass to be in an appropriate form (chips or powder) for density determination.

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Particle Size of Hemp

There have been a number of studies concerning the use of industrial hemp as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion. These have shown the biochemical methane potential (BMP) to be around 200-250 litres per kg of volatile solids.

Studies that investigated the use of thermal and/or chemical pre-treatments to make the lignocellulosic matrix of hemp more amenable to anaerobic digestion have typically shown significantly increased BMP values as a result.

Click here to see the Celignis Analysis Packages that determine Particle Size

Examples of Other Feedstocks Analysed at Celignis

We are looking for top-class applicants to catalyse Celignis’s growth.

We are looking for someone to join the Celignis team and spearhead our growth and expansion into new markets and territories.

The position has a salary of €69.5k for one year, plus €20k of training and €3.5k in relocation funds.

Please click here for further information on the position and how to apply.

We are looking for top-class applicants to develop bioprocessing IP at Celignis

We are pleased to announce that we have been selected to be awarded funding, through the Horizon 2020 Innosup Innovation Associate programme, to recruit a top-class person to lead the development of our bioprocess concept into a patentable process and prototype product with clear commercial potential.

The SAPHIRE (Self-Assembling Plant-based Hydrogels Induced by Redox Enzymes) project focuses on the production of environmentally-friendly, 100% plant-based, superior-quality hydrogels for food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications.

The position has a salary of €69.5k for one year, plus €20k of training and €3.5k in relocation funds.

Please click here for further information on the position and how to apply.

Illinois-based Ibiocat, was founded by Charles Abbas, a leading light for over 40 years in biorefining.

Illinois-based Ibiocat, founded by Charles A. Abbas, and Ireland-based analytical provider Celignis, founded by Dan Hayes, have come together to develop bespoke bioeconomy solutions for clients that are looking to add value to their process residues generated from 1G and 2G ethanol plants.

Click here to read more about this exciting collaboration and here to download a promotional flyer.

The 2 day event will see all 16 partners of the ENABLING project discuss the progress to date.

This two-day event will see all 16 project partners discuss the progress made in the first 18 months of our Horizon 2020 project ENABLING and make plans for the activities to be undertaken in the second half of the project.

The focus of the project is on supporting the spreading of best practices and innovation in the provision (production, pre-processing) of biomass for the Bio-Based Industry (BBI).

Click here for more information on ENABLING.

Details the latests activities and findings of the ENABLING project

We are happy to announce that the 4th newsletter of the ENABLING project has been released.

ENABLING is a coordinating and supporting action funded by the H2020-RUR-2017-1 call of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The title of the project is an acronym that stands for ‘Enhance New Approaches in BioBased Local Innovation Networks for Growth’. The focus of the project is on supporting the spreading of best practices and innovation in the provision (production, pre-processing) of biomass for the Bio-Based Industry (BBI).

Celignis will play a key role in the project with regards to stressing the importance of biomass composition in terms of evaluating feedstock and technology suitability. Over the course of the project we will also be contacting a number of stakeholders, both in Ireland and overseas, and will be involved in the organisation of a number of networking events.

About Us

We have anlaysed samples from many countries (including the USA, Brazil, New Zealand, and Australia) and these samples have NO DELAY IN CUSTOMS. Celignis has a standard cover letter and packing list that we ask customers to include with their samples.

Office: Celignis Limited, Unit 11 Holland Road,Plassey Technology Park Castletroy, County Limerick, Republic of Ireland

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Analysis of Hemp High Precision High Precision Many analyses are undertaken in duplicate so you can be sure of the accuracy of our work. We are proud of our levels of precision and provide