Strength and thermal stability of fiber reinforced plastic composites made from rattan canes
Rattans have been used for various purposes ranging from furniture and art works to cement composites. Plastic composites are however more dimensionally stable than cement composites because plastic creates a moisture barrier against water ingress. There is paucity of information on properties of plastic composites made from rattan canes. Therefore, the strength properties and thermal stability of plastic composites reinforced with rattan fibers were investigated in this work. Particles of rattan species (Eremospatha macrocarpa (EM) and Laccosperma secundiflorum (LS)) were blended with High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) to produce fiber reinforced plastic composites (FRPC) viz: EM, LS and EM+LS using formulations of 50:41 and 55:36 rattan: HDPE. Flexural tests and dimensional stability (water absorption and thickness swelling) of the rattan composites were determined. The results obtained revealed that the rattan composites possessed adequate strength and had low water absorption and thickness swelling rates. The water absorption of the composites was influenced by the increase in rattan content while the thickness swell and Modulus of Rupture (MOR) were not significantly different for the two rattans. However, Modulus of Elasticity (MOE) of LS-HDPE composites was significantly higher than for EM-HDPE composites. Increase in rattan content caused reduction in MOR but increased the MOE of FRPC. Thermogravimetric analysis results revealed that HDPE in EM+LS/HDPE were less thermally stable than EM/HDPE or LS/HDPE.
Keywords: Rattans, fiber reinforced plastic composites, dimensional stability, thermal stability