• natural fiber polymer composites;
  • HDPE;
  • banana;
  • hemp;
  • sisal;
  • fibers;
  • absorption;
  • steam;
  • water;
  • maleic anhydride


The natural fibers (banana, hemp, and sisal) and high density polyethylene were taken for the preparation of natural fiber/polymer composites in different ratios of 40 : 60 and 45 : 55 (w/w). These fibers were esterified with maleic anhydride (MA) and the effect of esterification of MA was studied on swelling properties in terms of absorption of water, at ambient temperature, and steam. It was found that the steam penetrates more within lesserperiod of time than water at ambient temperature. Untreated fiber composites show more absorption of steam and water in comparison to MA-treated fiber composites. The more absorption of water was found in hemp fiber composites and less in sisal fiber composites. Steam absorption in MA-treated and untreated fiber composites are higher than the water absorption in respective fiber composites. The natural fiber/polymer composites containing low amount of fibers show less absorption of steam and water at ambient temperature than the composites containing more amount of fibers in respective fiber composites. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 2007