Nigerian Journal of Technology

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Factors That Improve the Impact Responses of Ukam Plant Fibre Reinforced Composite

CC Ugoamadi


Natural fibres around us have mechanical properties capable of making them compete effectively with synthetic fibres in the development of fibre reinforced composites. Synthetic fibres (such as glass fibres) and resins (such as polyester resin) have long been used in the development of structural components for car bodies, boat buildings, house and aircraft constructions. This project is concerned with the preparation of cashew nut shell liquid resin (natural resin) and the collection of Ukam plant fibres (natural fibres) and using them in the development of fibre reinforced plastic composites. Factors that improve their impact responses were considered in the development processes. These are fibre volume fractions, fibre treatment, fibre length, fibre orientation and the application of additives. Fifty different test specimens which involved the synthetic and the natural composites were developed using the hand lay-up method. The specimens were subjected to pendulum or notched Izod impact tests using ASTM D256 impact testing machine. The results of the impact tests show that: (1) Natural composites can withstand impact strengths like the synthetic ones, (2) Impact response of composites improves when the five factors indicated above are taken into consideration in composite development. Among these factors, the introduction of 20% by resin weight of additives yielded the best impact response for both natural and synthetic composites. For example at 40% fibre volume fraction, the natural composite test sample with additives developed an impact response of 86.4kJm-2 against 78.9kJm-2 impact response of the natural composite test sample without additives. This optimum impact response improvement was also observed with synthetic composite test samples with values of 96.5kJm-2 and 94.8kJm-2 for samples with additives and without additives respectively. From these results, it is obvious that structural components such as car bumpers could be developed from natural composites

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