A team of researchers has recently created a new bio-composite material using date palm fiber biomass, which is potential for sustainable, lightweight, and low-cost applications in automotive and marine industries for non-structural parts such as door linings and car bumpers.
Unlike synthetic composites reinforced by glass and carbon fibers, the polycaprolactone (PCL) bio-composite reinforced by date palm fiber is completely renewable, recyclable, biodegradable, and sustainable, according to researchers whose work has been outlined in the journal Industrial Crops and Products.
Bio-composite with Improved Mechanical Properties
When testing mechanical properties of the bio-composite, the researchers found that the date palm fiber PCL has higher tensile strength and achieve better low-velocity impact resistance compared to existing man-made composites.
Study co-author Dr. Hom Dhakal, who led the University of Portsmouth’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (AMM) Research Group, said that exploring the suitability of date palm fiber waste biomass as reinforcement in lightweight composites offered a big opportunity of using the material to create inexpensive, lightweight, as well as sustainable bio-composites. Impact of the new development will be very significant as these lightweight alternatives are promising for reducing vehicle weight, contributing to less consumption of fuel and lower carbon dioxide emissions, he added. The sustainable materials can be produced using lesser energy than carbon and glass fibers, and are easier to recycle due to better biodegradability.
Sheath of Date Palm Trees for Composite Reinforcement
Date palm fibers are among the most abundant natural fibers in Middle East and North Africa. The trees produce a large quantity of agriculture waste, which is either burned or land dumped, giving rise to various environmental issues including the destruction of vital soil microorganisms. Sheath (a part of plant that surrounds the trunk) of date palm trees is commonly used as fibers.
Dr. Dhakal said that it is a very long journey; the challenge to get consistently reliable properties and takes longer time to convince people to use a new type of materials such as natural fiber reinforced composite materials for structural as well as non-structural applications.
The research team are collaborating with industries to test the strength of viability parts manufactured from sustainable materials including date palm, hemp, flax, and fibers.