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Keywords:

  • biomaterials;
  • compatibilization;
  • composites;
  • mechanical properties;
  • polyolefins

Abstract

Numerous strategies to improve the fiber–matrix interaction in natural fiber composites (NFCs) and wood polymer composites (WPCs) have been proposed and investigated. We have reviewed literature on polyolefin-based NFCs and WPCs to get an overview of the current state of the art of compatibilization methods. Those are classified in two categories here, namely fiber-based strategies and matrix-based strategies. Although this issue has been covered by several reviews before, as yet no work exists that is focused on polyolefin-based NFCs and WPCs. Furthermore, a ranking of the compatibilization methods based on their effects on material properties such as tensile/flexural strength and modulus, impact strength and water absorption, allows for an assessment of the efficiency of the various methods. As to the fiber-based strategies, silanes, maleated polyolefins (MA-POs), mercerization and acetylation are most thoroughly investigated. Silanes are most effective judged by achievable material property improvements, allowing for increases in tensile and flexural strength of more than 100%. Among the matrix-based strategies, MA-POs and isocyanates are most prominent in the literature. The first class enables the more significant material improvements, with reported increases of tensile and flexural strength of 132% and 85%, respectively. While strengths can be enhanced by many compatibilization methods, moduli, and impact strength (notched in particular) are in most cases improved to a lesser degree or even reduced. Especially, the last point calls for further attention, because impact strength is still a weak point of NFCs and WPCs. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2013