Composite building materials from natural fibers/ agro-forest residues
Interest in using renewable resources such as natural fibers and agro-forest residues as reinforcements/fillers in polymer matrices has grown considerably for making wood alternatives in view of their low cost, easy availability, saving in energy and pollution free-production. In this paper, an overview on the global perspective of natural fiber reinforced composites has been outlined with reference to their applications in buildings. Researches carried out on polymer composites based on natural fibers and agro-forest residues are briefly reviewed in terms of their physico-mechanical properties and performance characteristics. During fabrication, 30-50 wt % sisal/jute fibers in laminates/sheets, 50-60 wt % rice husk in extruded/injection moldings and ~95 wt % pine needles in boards have been used. The sandwich composites used in the doors ( jute laminate face, and polyester-urethane foam core) have a density of 500-610 kg/m3 and exhibited ~1.5% weight loss when exposed to termites according to ASTM D 3345. Based on the results, sisal/jute composite panels/ door shutters, shuttering plates, rice husk/plastic profile frames and pine needle composite boards have been successfully manufactured at pilot plant scale. Techno-economics and sustainability issues related to these composites have also been discussed in order to develop confidence among users and entrepreneurs. A comparative assessment between the properties of these newly developed products and commercial specification gives a clear guideline for users about their suitability in large scale adaptation in practice.
Natural fiber composites, Agro-forest residues, Rice husk/plastic profile frame, Pine needle composite boards, Wood substitutes
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