Investigation of acrylamide-modified melamine-formaldehyde resins as a compatibilizer for kenaf-unsaturated polyester composites



Kenaf fiber-reinforced unsaturated polyester (UPE) composites were prepared by compression molding. A novel compatibilizer was prepared from melamine, formaldehyde, and acrylamide. The treatment of kenaf fibers with the compatibilizer significantly increased the flexural properties and reduced the water uptake of the resulting kenaf–UPE composites. The effects of the total solids content, the molar ratios of melamine/formaldehyde/acrylamide, and the pH value of the compatibilizer solution in the treatment of kenaf fibers on the flexural strength, flexural modulus, as well as the water uptake of the kenaf–UPE composites were studied in detail. Fourier transform infrared spectra revealed that the compatibilizer was covalently bonded to kenaf fibers. Scanning electron microscopy images of the fractured kenaf–UPE composites confirmed that the treatment of kenaf fibers with the compatibilizer improved the interfacial adhesion between kenaf fibers and UPE resin. The mechanisms for the improved flexural properties and the reduced water uptake by the treatments of the kenaf fibers were proposed and discussed. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 2013. © 2012 Society of Plastics Engineers