Pretreatments of natural fibers and their application as reinforcing material in polymer composites—A review



In recent years, natural fibers reinforced composites have received much attention because of their lightweight, nonabrasive, combustible, nontoxic, low cost and biodegradable properties. Among the various natural fibers; flax, bamboo, sisal, hemp, ramie, jute, and wood fibers are of particular interest. A lot of research work has been performed all over the world on the use of natural fibers as a reinforcing material for the preparation of various types of composites. However, lack of good interfacial adhesion, low melting point, and poor resistance towards moisture make the use of natural fiber reinforced composites less attractive. Pretreatments of the natural fiber can clean the fiber surface, chemically modify the surface, stop the moisture absorption process, and increase the surface roughness. Among the various pretreatment techniques, graft copolymerization and plasma treatment are the best methods for surface modification of natural fibers. Graft copolymers of natural fibers with vinyl monomers provide better adhesion between matrix and fiber. In the present article, the use of pretreated natural fibers in polymer matrix-based composites has been reviewed. Effect of surface modification of natural fibers on the properties of fibers and fiber reinforced polymer composites has also been discussed. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 2009. © 2009 Society of Plastics Engineers