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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/rser

Plant fibre based bio-composites: Sustainable and renewable green MARK


M. Ramesha, , K. Palanikumarb, K. Hemachandra Reddyc
Department of Mechanical Engineering, KPR Institute of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore 641407, Tamil Nadu, India
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Sri Sai Ram Institute of Technology, Chennai 600044, Tamil Nadu, India
Department of Mechanical Engineering, JNTU College of Engineering Anantapur, Ananthapuramu 515002, Andhra Pradesh, India


Keywords: The abundant availability and accessibility of plant fibres are the major reasons for an emerging new interest in
Bio-composites sustainable technology. While focusing on the composite materials, the main points to be considered are
Green materials environment friendliness and light weight, with high specific properties. This century has witnessed remarkable
Sustainability achievements in green technology in the field of materials science through the development of high-
performance materials made from natural resources is increasing worldwide. Plant fibres are a kind of
renewable resources, which have been renewed by nature and human ingenuity for thousands of years. The
Plant fibre reinforced composites (PFRCs)
greatest challenge in working with plant fibre reinforced composites (PFRCs) is their large variation in
properties and characteristics. A PFRCs properties are influenced by a number of variables, including the fibre
type, environmental conditions, processing methods, and modification of the fibre. A detailed systematic review
on these sustainable and renewable green materials is presented in this paper. The overall characteristics of
plant fibres used in bio-composites, including source, type, structure, composition, as well as properties, will be
reviewed. Finally, the review will conclude with recent developments and future trends of PFRCs as well as key
issues that need to be addressed and resolved.

1. Introduction Therefore, the public awareness of increased un-decomposable solid

wastes and their impact to the environment has awakened a new
There is an urgency to address the environmental and economic interest in the area of developing fully biodegradable materials with
concerns in the production of new materials and hence in this regard acceptable properties. Recently, biodegradable materials have contin-
these new materials based on plant fibres and bio-resins are able to ued attracting much attention worldwide.
produce green material [1,2]. Petroleum is a fossil fuel which is Manufacture of currently used materials is quite difficult as regards
estimated to last for only another 50–60 years at the current rate of consumption of energy, raw materials and cost. Therefore there are
consumption [3]. Elevated environmental consciousness in the general efforts for finding suitable alternative material resources, while local,
public and preservation of non-renewable petroleum based materials easily renewable resources are to be the advantageous alternative, on
has resulted in an extensive use of PFRCs for commercial applications. the condition of consequent processing with low energy requirements
Restricting the emission of greenhouse effect causing gases such as CO2 [4]. The readily available renewable material resources are very
into the atmosphere, and an increasing awareness of the finiteness of important also from the point of sustainability of material resources.
fossil energy resources, lead to the development of new materials that One of the methods of solution is using naturally available fibrous
are entirely based on renewable resources. Excessive use of petroleum resources from agriculture. Another promising method is using in-
based polymers causes to a serious depletion of landfill capacities. dustrial waste or industrial recycled materials. Use of high quality
Besides, the government's plastic waste control legislations and the structural materials, energetic design of energy saving structures and
growing interest among the users in sustainable and environmentally thermal insulation of existing structures is of prime importance for
friendly products drive the retailers and manufacturers trending reducing energy requirements of structures. In such types of structures,
towards their investment on the development of sustainable materials where plant fibres are used, further positive factors take place, like
with acceptable cost, to alleviate an impact from global warming. thermal regulation of structures, protection from weather, protection

Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: mramesh97@gmail.com (M. Ramesh), palanikumar_k@yahoo.com (K. Palanikumar), konireddy@gmail.com (K.H. Reddy).

Received 8 April 2016; Received in revised form 23 February 2017; Accepted 18 May 2017
Available online 24 May 2017
1364-0321/ © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

from direct sunlight and others, which is supported by many scientific composites [31–33]. Among all the fibre plants, areca appears to be
studies and results. To use all advantages of these systems, it is a promising reinforcing material because it is inexpensive,abundantly
necessary to consider suitability of the structures, type of plants and available and a very high potential perennial crop. It belongs to the
their location in the plant as well as for example questions of keeping family palmecea, originated in the Malaya peninsular, and cultivated in
the plants [5–14]. India and other countries in Asia. In India, areca nut cultivation is
In recent years, plant fibres have become an important class of coming up on a large scale basis with a view to attaining self sufficiency
reinforcing materials [15–17]. The total consumption of biodegradable in medicine, paint, chocolate, gutka, etc. The husk of the are cais a hard
materials is forecasted to grow at an average annual rate of nearly 13%, fibrous portion covering the endosperm, which constitutes 30–45% of
which are accounted as the major global markets for materials’ the total volume of the fruit. Areca husk fibres are predominantly
consumption [18]. However, high price and limited properties of the composed of hemicelluloses and not of cellulose. Are cafibres contain
fully degradable materials hinder the diversity of the usage. Therefore, 13to 24.6% of lignin, 35–64.8% of hemicelluloses,4.4% of ash and 8–
in order to tackle on these problems and retard the exhaustion of 25% of water content [34]. Kenaf is one of the plant fibres used as
natural resources, different projects along the line of developing reinforcement in polymer matrix composites (PMCs). Kenaf has been
biodegradable materials have emerged recently and it is general found to be an important source of fibre for composites, and other
believed that these are one of most key materials in all industries in industrial applications. Kenaf is well known as a cellulosic source with
coming centuries. PFRCs are defined as a type of materials which are both economic and ecological advantages. It is able to grow under a
generally composed of plant fibre and biodegradable polymer, as a wide range of weather conditions, to a height of more than 3 m and a
matrix. PFRCs have recently received substantial attention due to their base diameter of 3–5 cm within 3 months. This statement is supported
potential for replacing conventional fibre reinforced composites, spe- by previous studies, which mentions that growing speed may reach
cifically glass fibre reinforced composites (GFRCs). It is forecasted that 10 cm/day under optimum ambient conditions. The kenaf plant is
by 2020 fibres derived from bio-based sources will represent up to 28% composed of many useful components (e.g., stalks, leaves, and seeds)
of the total market of reinforcement materials [19]. and within each of these there are various usable portions (e.g., fibres
The properties of these composites can be tailored for various types and fibre strands, proteins, oils, and allelopathic chemicals). The yield
of applications by a proper selection of fibres, matrix, additives and and composition of these plant components can be affected by many
manufacturing methods. The pre-treatment process of fibre plays a key factors, including cultivar, planting date, photosensitivity, length of
role it controls the overall interfacial bonding properties and thus, growing season, plant populations, and plant maturity [35,36].
successful stress transfer of resultant composites. Garbage wastes such It is a well known fact that banana is one ofthe oldest cultivated
as plastic grocery bags, food packaging materials, bottles, containers plant in the world. It belongs to the Musaceae family and there are
etc. are mainly responsible for causing environment pollution in urban approximately 300 species, but only 20 varieties are used for con-
areas due to non-biodegradable nature. To keep our environment safe sumption. Approximately 70 million metric tons of bananas are
and green, it is compulsory to reduce the use of such pollution causing produced every year by the tropical and subtropical regions of the
garbage [20]. That is why; many countries banned plastic grocery bags world. The nutritional facts of banana are as follows: carbohydrates-
responsible for so called white pollution. Alternative usage of biode- 18.8 g; protein-1.15 g; fat-0.18 g; water-73.9 g; vitamins C1, B1, B2,
gradable plastics and their plant fibre bio-composites gained more B6, E, other minerals-0.83 g and 81 kcal. Banana plants generally
popularity because they are degraded easily after landfill. Therefore, it produce 30 large leaves (almost 2 m long and 30–60 cm wide) [37].
may lead to one of the solutions for the issue of disposal ground Hemp is naturally one of the most ecologically friendly fibres and also
depletion [21,22]. Keeping this target, recent research efforts are being the oldest crop. The Columbia history of the world states that the oldest
harnessed in developing a new class of fully bio-degradable composites relics of human industry are bits of hemp fabric discovered in tombs
by combining plant fibre with bio-degradable polymers [23]. dating back to approximately 8000 BCE. Hemp is an annual plant
This review focuses the potentiality of plant fibre based green native to central Asia and known to have been grown for more than
materials. Due to their properties including high mechanical strength 12,000 years. It probably reached central Europe in the Iron Age and
and excellent biocompatibility, they have gained more attention and there is evidence of its growth in the UK by the Anglo Saxons (800–
growing field in materials technology. A general review on plant fibre 1000 CE). It is now grown mostly in the EU, central Asia, Philippines,
and its composites was done by several researchers. Several fibres, and China. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),
especially bast and leaf fibres, and its composites were reviewed almost half of the world's industrial hemp supply is grown in China,
previously [24–30]. Several researchers are exploring plant-based with most of the remainder being cultivated in Chile, France, the
bio-materials in the form of sheets, strands, particles, microfibres democratic people's republic of Korea and Spain [38].
and nano-particles for different applications. Although there is a good Bio-mass waste from palm plantation and palm industry are
amount of literature available on plant fibre based bio-materials, there challenging as bio-pellet based material. The utilization of oil palm
is an inadequacy of extensive review articles that specifically focus on solid waste gives positive impact not only for the environment but also
properties of plant fibre based bio-materials. In this work an attempt to the wellness and economical sector. By integrated waste manage-
has been made to highlight the research that has been carried out in the ment provide production process that more efficient in economic side.
field of plant fibre based bio-composites. It aims to provide an overview Solid waste that has been passed through in advance process could be
of the advances that have been made and the future course available. It used as a diversification product and give the economic value for oil
will provide an overview of the plant fibres and its bio-composites as palm industry. It could be assumed, 50% of solid waste materials used
well as may direct the researchers to the specific areas of application. for energy consumption in process needs, so that for the excess one
could be give an alternative eco-friendly fuel used for other industrial
2. Fibre plants fuel, household, electricity, and also become potential export commod-
ity [39].
2.1. History and background Jute is a bast fibre originated from Tiliaceae family and takes nearly
3 months to grow to a height of 12–15 feet. Jute plant is cut and kept
Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the immersed in the water for retting process during rainy season. The
use of plant fibres for making a sustainable eco-friendly and biode- inner stem and outer gets separated and the outer plant gets
gradable materials [1]. Fibres from plants such as cotton, hemp, jute, individualized to form fibres. Jute fibre is known as golden fibre, and
sisal, pineapple, ramie, bamboo, banana, etc., as well as wood and is grown in Eastern India and Bangladesh [1,40]. Bamboo belongs to
seeds of flax are used as the reinforcement in polymer matrix the grass family Bambusoideae, which consists of cellulose fibre

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

embedded in a lignin matrix. Bamboo has several advantages over mechanical reinforcement. The factors affecting plant fibre quality at
other plant fibres such as its low density, low cost, high mechanical various stages are presented in Table 1 [53].
strength, stiffness,high growth rate and its ability to fix atmospheric
CO2. Bamboo has some disadvantages, including high moisture con- 2.3. Classification of plant fibres
tent, the difficulty of extracting fine and straight fibres, and thermal
degradation during manufacturing. Bamboo has approximately 70 The plant fibres are grouped into different categories and can be
varieties and grows naturally in diverse climates, with particular classified according to their origin, derivations of plant, which are
abundance in Asia and south America. Bamboo has traditionally been shown in Fig. 2 [36,49].
used in construction and as a material for the manufacture of tools for
daily living due to its high strength to weight ratio [41].
2.3.1. Bast/stem fibre
Sisal fibre is a hard fibre extracted from the leaves of the sisal plant.
Bast or stem fibres are generally separated from the extreme outer
Though native to tropical and sub-tropical north and South America,
part of plant stems. The examples of the fibres are jute, flax, abaca,
sisal plant is now widely grown in countries like Africa, West Indies and
hemp, ramie, banana, soyabean and kenaf. These fibres were extracted
the Far East. A sisal plant produces about 200 leaves and each leaf
by retting process,and are accomplished by means of biological or
contains around 1000 fibres which are composed of 4% fibre, 0.75%
chemical degradation of plant stems. The long fibres with high
cuticle, 8% dry matter and 87.25% water. So normally a leaf weighing
mechanical strength is the typical properties of bast fibres, so they
about 600 g will yield about 3% by weight of fibre [1,42]. Oil palm is the
are traditionally used in making fancy bags, curtains, yarn, textile,
highest yielding edible oil crop in the world. It is cultivated in 42
rope, sack, etc.
countries about 11 million hectares worldwide. West Africa, south east
Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, Latin American countries
and India are the major oil palm cultivating countries [43]. Pineapple 2.3.2. Leaf fibre
leaf fibre (PALF) is obtained from the leaves of the plant, belonging to The coarse and hard fibres extracted from the leaf of the plant by
the Bromeliaceae family. PALF is largely cultivated in tropical coun- hand scraping after beating/retting process or by mechanical extra-
tries, mainly for its fruits. Its cultivation in India is substantial (about ctionare called leaf fibres. Due to the relatively high strength, these
22, 50,000 acres of land is cultivated and is increasing; in the future a fibres are mainly used for the making of woven ropes, fabrics, carpets,
considerable increase in the production of the fibre is envisaged). The mats, etc. The typical leaf fibres are pineapple leaf fibre, sisal, caroa,
pineapple plant has a very short stem which first produces a rosette of harakeke, henequen, palm, agave, etc.
leaves but which latter elongated and bears numerous spirally arranged
fibrous leaves. The leaves are about 3 ft. long, 2–3 in. wide sword 2.3.3. Fruit/Seed fibre
shaped, dark green in colour and bear spines of claws on their margins. These fibres were obtained from the outer husk of the respective
The leaves of the pineapple plant yield strong, white fine silky fibres. fruit and coir fibre is a best example of this type, which is extracted
Since the pineapple plant is a special crop, only limited quantity of fibre from the coconut husk. These fibres are light in weight and
is available. Therefore, no attempt has been made to grade these fibres strong, mainly used in the fabrication of ropes, mats, sacks, brushes,
[44]. Major plants used for fibre extraction is presented in Fig. 1. geo-textile, etc. Other types of seed fibres which are produced from the
pod or boll of particular plant seeds. The examples of such fibres are
2.2. Plant fibres borassus fruit fibre, cotton, kapok, rice husk and milky weed floss
which is mainly used in the textile industries, water safety equipment,
Fibres extracted from plants are a type of renewable sources and a insulation materials, upholstery and mattress products due to their
new generation of reinforcements and supplements for polymer based softness and buoyancy.
materials. These fibres are renewable, cheap, completely or partially
recyclable, biodegradable, and environment friendly materials. Their
2.3.4. Stalk fibre
availability, low density and price as well as satisfactory mechanical
These fibres are extracted from the plant stalks, and are generally
properties, make them attractive alternative reinforcements to glass,
obtained from plants such as maize, sugarcane, corn, egg-plant, sun-
carbon and other manmade fibres [45,46]. Natural fibres originated
flower, wood and from the straws of various crops such as barley,
from plants, have been used for thousands of years; they are naturally
wheat, rice and etc. The pulp from some of the stalk fibres has been
available resources, popular among consumers who are highly health
utilized in paper and paper-board industries.
conscious, and these fibres are considered as valuable raw materials for
many applications and have also found use in gardening, pulp and
paper, and cosmetic and food industries [47,48]. Factors like poor 2.3.5. Reed/Grass fibres
wettability, poor bonding and degradation at the fibre/matrix interface, These fibres were extracted from the tall grasses such as rye grass,
and damage of the fibre during the manufacturing process, are the elephant grass, switch grass and bamboo plants. Furthermore, fibrous
main causes for the reduction of the strength of the PFRCs [49]. crop residues such as bagasse, esparto, sabei, phragmites, communis,
Therefore, plant fibres are not homogeneous in size, and different canary grass, snake grass etc. can mainly be used as fibre reinforce-
constituent scales must be accounted for when they are used for ments in cement-based composites.
material reinforcement, because of differences in various parameters
whatever the specie study, such as the fibre origin (for example, the 2.3.6. Wood fibres
part of the stem), the growth conditions of the plant, and the process to Wood fibres are extracted from a various types of trees. The wood
extract the fibres [50,51]. Many defects are present on the surface and fibres are widely classified into two types such as softwood and
in the volume of a fibre, whereas others are produced during the hardwood. The main difference between these two types is that while
growth of the plant. The process of decortications may also cause softwood fibres are commonly longer than hardwood fibres. On the
defects (knees, bow, and dislocation). These defects are heteroge- other hand, these fibres are industrially processed with special
neously distributed over the fibre length and may play an important attributes such as bond enhancement and alkali treatment etc.
role in the mechanical strength and resistance to rupture [50,52]. To Furthermore, the controlled manufacturing processes of these fibres
prevent the generation of these defects, it is essential to understand the ensure that the large variability in dimensional stability and mechan-
impact of the whole lignocellulosic processing procedure on the ical properties associated with the unprocessed plant-based fibres is
dimensional characteristics of the fibres intended to be used for significantly reduced.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 1. Fibre plants (a) Roselle; (b) Sisal; (c) Cotton; (d) Coir; (e) Hemp; (f) Bamboo; (g) Banana; (h) Sugar cane; (i) Pineapple leaf; (j) Flax; (k) Broom corn; (l) Palm tree and borassus
fruit; (m) Kenaf; (n) Snake grass; and (o) Elephant grass.,.

2.4. Extraction of plant fibres pulp, the produced fibres are longer, stronger and bright in colour.
Based on the applications, further post pulping processing of fibres
A process, where the inner stem and outer, gets separated and the such as bleaching and mechanical beating are also performed [55].
outer plant gets individualized to form a fibre is called retting [1]. The
separation of fibres from the core tissues, after the retting process, 2.5. Plant/cellulose nano-fibres/nano-crystals
single fibres from the plant strand fibres are usually obtained by
manual mechanical separation processor the use of a decorticator [54]. In the recent past years virtually, everything became nano, even
The other process which is called pulping is used to produce strand materials, like carbon black, which have been extensively used as the
fibres or wood chips to individualize fibres. During mechanical pulping, reinforcement or fillers in rubbers for more than 100 years [36]. Nano-
fibre strands or wood strips are grounded in three different ways such manufacturing of a vast range of high performance materials and
as without steaming, with steaming and chemical/steam pre-treat- composites is presently generating enormous interest across many
ment. In chemical pulping process, heat and chemicals are used in industries. Cellulose nano-fibres (CNFs) and cellulose nano-crystals
removing the lignin from strands and woodstrips thereby individualiz- (CNCs) are high strength and high surface area particles which can be
ing fibres. Although chemical pulping process yields lower quantities of isolated from cellulose fibres by mechanical fibrillation and acid

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 1. (continued)

Table 1 be dispersed homogenously in matrices. Claramunt et al. [65] observed

Factors affecting quality of plant fibres. that composites containing nano-fibrillated fibre recorded higher
flexural strength, higher flexural modulus and reduced fracture energy
Stage Factors affecting plant fibre quality
compared to composites reinforced with conventional sisal fibre. In
Plant growth stage Species of plant comparison to sisal microfibre reinforced composites, Ardanuy et al.
Crop cultivation [66] reported 36% and 71% increase in flexural strength and flexural
Crop location
modulus, respectively in composites reinforced with sisal nano-fibres.
Fibre location in plant
Local climate They also observed that the nano-fibre composites were brittle, with
fracture energy decreasing by about 53%. The higher strength of the
Harvesting stage Fibre ripeness, which affects: nanocomposites was as a result of increased fibre matrix bond
– Cell wall thickness engendered by the high specific surface area of the nano-fibres.
– Coarseness of fibres
Conversely, the reduced fracture energy of the nanocomposites was
– Adherence between fibre and surrounding structure
ascribed to ineffective crack abridgement by the nano-fibres; and this
Fibre extraction stage Decortication process could be remedied by micro and nano-fibre hybridization in composites
Type of retting method [65,66]. Despite the delayed hydration of mixtures, Onuaguluchi et al.
[67] reported increased cumulative heat of hydration and 106%
Supply stage Transportation conditions
Storage conditions
improvement in flexural strength relative to the unreinforced reference
Age of fibre mixture for cement paste containing 0.1% cellulose nano-fibre by mass
of cement. However, comparative studies on CNF and CNC reinforced
composites would help ensure that appropriate nano-cellulose material
is selected for PFRCs.
hydrolyses, respectively. Although both CNFs and CNCs are nano-
sized, their chemical composition and dimensions are different. While
amorphous cellulose containing CNFs form interlinked network of 2.6. Properties of plant fibres
fibres, with each fibre measuring between 2 and 5 mm in length, the
more crystalline and shorter CNCs typically measures a few hundred The properties of PFRCs differ, because different fibres were used,
nanometers in length. Many studies have investigated the possibility of different moisture conditions were present, and different testing
extracting CNF and CNC from various wood and plant sources [56– methods were employed. The PFRCs performance depends on several
64]. These studies have shown that nano-fibres and nano-crystals could factors, including fibres chemical composition, cell dimensions, micro-
be extracted successfully from wood, rice straw, wheat straw, bagasse, fibrillar angle, defects, structure, physical and mechanical properties,
banana, pineapple leaf, cotton and etc. Although research studies on and also the interaction of a fibre with the polymer. In order to expand
the use of cellulose nano-fibres as reinforcements in composites are the use of plant fibres for composites and improved their performance,
limited, the few available studies suggest potential,if nano-fibres could it is essential to know the fibre characteristics. The properties of some

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 2. Classification of plant fibres.

Table 2
Compiled properties of some readily utilized plant and synthetic fibres. 3. Plant fibre reinforced composites (PFRCs)
Fibre Density Elongation (%) Tensile Young's Refs.
(g/cm3) strength modulus PFRCs can be a combination of plant fibres/synthetic resin or
(MPa) (GPa) plant fibres/bio-degradable resin. Both synthetic and bio-degradable
resin can be either in the form of thermoset or thermoplastic type [78].
Abaca 1.5 3–10 430–760 12.0 [68,69]
The use of plant fibres is improved remarkably due to the fact that the
Areca 0.7–0.8 10.2–13.15 147–322 1.12–3.15 [70]
B. mori silk 1.33 19.55 208.45 6.10 [71] field of application is improved day by day especially in automotive,
Bagasse 1.25 – 290 17.0 [69] aviation and construction industries. Ligno-cellulosic materials are
Bamboo 0.6–1.1 – 140–230 11–17 [69] obtained from natural plants have attracted interest for the manufac-
Banana – 3 529–914 27–32 [72] turing of polymer based composites. They are starting to be widely used
Coir 1.2 30.0 175 4.0–6.02 [69,73]
in the plastics industry, construction [79,80]; biological systems
Cotton 1.5–1.6 7.0–8.0 287–597 5.5–12.6 [73]
Curaua 1.4 3.7–4.3 500–1150 11.8 [69] transport [81] and the automotive industry [82,83]. Plant fibres are
Flax 1.5 2.7–3.2 345–1035 27.6 [69,73] chosen as reinforcement because they can reduce the tool wear when
Hemp 1.48 1.6 690 70.0 [69,73] machining, respiratory irritation and serving as alternatives for
Henequen 1.2 3.7–5.9 430–570 10.1–16.3 [74]
syntheticfibre composites in the increasing global energy crisis and
Isora 1.2–1.3 5–6 500–600 – [74]
Jute 1.3 1.5–1.8 393–773 26.5 [69,73]
ecological risks [84]. The increasing demand for green, environment
Kenaf 1.4 1.5 930 53.0 [68,69] friendly has resulted in new plant fibre based materials as replacements
Nettle – 1.7 650 38.0 [68] for non-degradable materials derived from petroleum resources that
Oil palm 0.7–1.55 3.2 248 25.0 [68,69] are currently being used for a number of applications [85]. Materials
Palf 0.8–1.6 1.6–14.5 180–1627 1.44–82.5 [74]
based on natural resources, like reed grass, straw, hay, linen, hemp or
Piassava 1.4 7.8–21.9 134–143 1.07–4.59 [74]
Pineapple 0.8–1.6 2.4 170–1627 60–82 [69,72] lichens have been used for thermally insulation purposes for ages [86].
Ramie 1.5 3.6–3.8 400–938 61.4–128 [69,73] Due to significant weight savings, and low cost of raw materials the
Sisal 1.5 2.0–2.5 511–635 9.4–22.0 [69,73] automobile industry begun to apply PFRCs in a variety of exterior and
Spider silk – 17–18 875–972 11–13 [72]
interior applications. However many problems are associated with
Tussah silk 1.32 33.48 248.77 5.79 [71]
Twisted B. – 20.57 156.27 3.82 [71]
production of PFRCs such as compatibility with synthetic polymers,
mori silk lack of dimensional stability and problems with processability [87]. The
Viscose – 11.4 593 11.0 [73] PFRCs plays very important role in the environmental situation and
Wood 1.5 – 1000 40.0 [73] variety of applications, many researchers have taken up these issues
E-glass 2.5–2.55 2.5 2000–3500 73 [74]
and discussed elaborately in their experiments [88–90].
Aramide 1.4–1.45 3.2–3.7 3000–3150 63–67 [74]
Carbon 1.4–1.75 1.4–1.8 4000 230–240 [74]
3.1. Processing of PFRCs

Matrix, fibres and other additives are compounded through differ-

readily utilized plant and synthetic fibres are summarized in Table 2. ent methods to form a composite. The final properties of composites
Plant based fibres consist of cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, extractives depend, aside from the fibre and the matrix components, on the
and ash. The concentrations of these components depend on factors manufacturing process. The main goals to achieve in order to develop
such as fibre type, growth condition, dimension, age, location on plant, composites with well-balanced mechanical properties are the following:
extraction and processing method. Table 3 shows the variations in (i) A homogeneous dispersion of the fibres in the matrix; (ii) A well-
chemical composition of some selected fibres. balanced interaction between the matrix and the fibres to allow fibre

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Table 3
Chemical composition of plant fibres.

Fibre Cellulose (%) Hemicellulose (%) Lignin (%) Pectin (%) Wax (%) Refs.

Abaca 62.5 21 12 0.8 3 [74]

Alfa 45.4 38.5 38.5 – 2 [74]
Areca 57.35–58.21 13–15.42 23–24 – 0.12 [70]
Bagasse 37 21 22 10 – [74]
Bamboo 34.5 20.5 26 – – [74]
Banana 62.5 12.5 7.5 4 – [62]
Barley 31–45 27–38 14–19 – 2–7 [75]
Coir 456 0.3 45 4 – [74]
Corn 38–40 28 7–21 – 3.6–7 [75]
Cotton 89 4 0.75 6 0.6 [74]
Curaua 73.6 5 7.5 – – [74]
Eucalyptus 41.7 32.56 25.4 8.2 0.22 [76]
Flax 72.5 14.5 2.5 0.9 – [74]
Hemp 81 20 4 0.9 0.8 [74]
Henequen 60 28 8 – 0.5 [74]
Hibiscus 28 25 22.7 – – [77]
Isora 74 – 23 – 1.1 [74]
Jute 67 16 9 0.2 0.5 [74]
Kenaf 53.5 21 17 2 – [74]
Phromium 67 30 11 – – [74]
Pineapple 80.5 17.5 8.3 4 – [74]
Ramie 72 14 0.8 2 – [74]
Rice husk 28–36 23–28 12–14 – 14–20 [76]
Sisal 60 11.5 8 1.2 – [74]
Sorghum 27 25 11 – – [75]
Wheat 33–38 26–32 17–19 – 6.8 [77]

pull-out; (iii) A low porosity of the matrix; (iv) An optimized percentage as volume fraction of the fibres, fibre aspect ratio, fibre/matrix
of fibres: enough to reinforce the material while allowing a continuity of adhesion, stress transfer at the interface, and orientation [96]. The
the matrix [91]. The extruder provides shear force and heating to melt main factors affecting the properties of PFRCs are: fibre selection
polymer and facilitate dispersion of fibres within. Plant fibres are including type, harvest time, extraction method, aspect ratio, treatment
temperature sensitive and the process temperature should be kept and fibre content, matrix selection, interfacial strength, fibre disper-
below 200 °C at all times, thus making the control of shear and heat in sion, fibre orientation, composite manufacturing process and porosity
the system very crucial for PFRCs. Sain et al. [92] explained the process [97]. The composites have been designed and fabricated by using three
for manufacturing thermoplastic bio-composites which comprises of Jamaican plant fibres. The biogas has been generated from sugar cane,
defibrillating the plant fibre in resin, followed by impregnation of banana trunk from banana plant and coir from the coconut husk. The
inorganic fibre in composite and further dispersion of fibres to get samples were subjected to standardized tests such as ash and carbon
composites. After compounding, composites are commonly manufac- content, water absorption, moisture content and tensile strength. From
tured through injection or compression moulding. The impact resis- the tests, it is found that the improvement in tensile strength and water
tance of compression moulded parts is 50% higher than injection absorption characteristics [98]. Alavudeen et al. [99] studied the
moulded ones; hence compression moulding is preferred for the mechanical properties of woven banana fibre, kenaf fibre and bana-
manufacturing of PFRCs [93]. na/kenaf hybrid fibre composites.
The wet hand lay-up process was used for sample preparation of The mechanical strength of woven banana/kenaf fibre composites
roselle fibre reinforced vinyl ester (VE) composites. A rectangular increases due to the hybridization of kenaf with banana fibres. Tensile,
mould constructed of an aluminum sheet with a certain dimension was flexural and impact strengths of the woven composite of banana/kenaf
used for the composite samples. The composite sample was prepared fibres are superior to those of the individual fibres. Sodium lauryl
by mixing 5 wt% of roselle fibre and 92.5 wt% of VE. First, the roselle sulfate treatments appear to provide an additional improvement in
fibre was gradually added to the VE composite and stirred using a mechanical strength through enhanced interfacial bonding. Gowthami
mechanical stirrer at 100–250 rpm until the mixture was uniformly et al. [100] developed sisal fibre composites with and without silica by
distributed. Then, 2.5 wt% of MEKP was added to the composite incorporating 100% biodegradable sisal fibres as reinforcement in the
mixture for curing. Finally, the mixture of the roselle fibre and VE polyester matrix. The results showed that the tensile strength and
resin was poured into the aluminum mould and cured for 24 h at room modulus of composites with silica are greater than that of composite
temperature. The samples were cut from the cured composites into without silica respectively. The impact strength of composite with sand
certain dimensions according to the ASTM standards for the mechan- also greater than that of composites without silica and plain polyester,
ical test [94]. respectively. Pujari et al. [101] reviewed the comparison and potenti-
ality of jute and banana fibre composites emphasizes both mechanical
3.2. Properties of PFRCs and physical properties and their chemical composition. The utilization
and application of the cheaper goods in high performance appliance is
In a scenario where rapid progress in material science has made a possible with the help of this composite technology. Combining the
wide range of available engineering materials for designers, the proper useful properties of two different materials, cheaper manufacturing
compatibility of the product's material with its performance and cost, versatility etc., makes them useful in various fields of engineering,
recyclability becomes essential for sustainable engineering products high performance applications such as leisure and sporting goods,
[95]. The properties of PFRCs depend on a number of parameters such shipping industries, aerospace etc.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

3.3. Mechanical properties the tensile strength and Young's modulus and addition of maleic
anhydride polypropylene further improves the tensile and flexural
Most of the studies on PFRCs involve study of mechanical proper- strength [114].
ties as a function of fibre content, effect of various treatments of fibres, Bos et al. [115] have investigated the mechanical properties of flax/
and the use of external coupling agents [96]. Both the matrix and fibre PP composites, manufactured with a batch kneading and an extrusion
properties are important in improving mechanical properties of the process and the properties were determined. The most important factor
composites. PFRCs exhibitsuperior mechanical properties such as limiting the properties of the composites lies in the intricate structure
flexibility, strength, stiffness and modulus when compared to man- of the fibres themselves, after the interfacial strength is optimized, the
made fibres, durable and easy to manufacture of complex and large internal fibre structure becomes the weakest point. Wambua et al.
shapes. Due to these applications the substitution of plant fibres with [116] reported an investigation about different plant fibres and found
glass or carbon fibres could be considered. The bulk strength and that PFRCs showed comparable tensile strength and modulus results.
weight properties of plant fibres are very favorable when compared to The tensile modulus, impact strength and the ultimate tensile stress of
metals, and it can be easily formed using moulding processes [102– kenaf fibre reinforced PP composites were found to increase with
104]. Juarez et al. [104] proposed solution for housing alternatives increasing fibre weight fraction. In most cases the specific properties of
involved sustainable cement based composite material reinforced with the PFRCs were found to compare favorably with those of glass. The
Agave lecheguilla fibres. The results indicated that this lecheguilla fibre mechanical properties of sisal, hemp, coir, kenaf and jute reinforced
exhibits high tensile strength and performs well at exposure to composites have been investigated. The tensile strength and modulus
aggressive environments and variations in humidity. In terms of increases with increasing fibre volume fraction. Among all the fibre
mechanical properties, plant fibres can be defined as high performance composites tested, coir fibre composites registered the lowest mechan-
fibres being characterized by a tensile strength, generally, higher than ical properties whereas hemp fibre reinforced composites showed the
200 MPa [105]. highest. The specific properties of the PFRCs were in some cases better
A bio-composite have been fabricated by using oak wood flour as than those of GFRCs. This indicated that PFRCs have a potential to
reinforcement and its mechanical properties are evaluated by Srubar replace GFRCs in many applications that do not require very high load
III et al. [106]. From the investigation, the incorporation of oak wood bearing capabilities.
flour reduced the overall degree of crystallinity and reduction in Ochi [117] deliberates the various mechanical properties of kenaf
ultimate stress and strain was found out. Studies on mechanical fibres and its composites. The unidirectional biodegradable composite
performance of natural/glass fibres reinforced hybrid composites were materials were made from kenaf fibres and an emulsion type poly-lactic
conducted by Mishra et al. [107] and concluded that the incorporation acid (PLA) resin. The analysis of properties revealed that tensile
of plant fibres with glass fibre improves the tensile, flexural and impact strength of kenaf fibres decreased when kept at 180 °C for 60 min.
strength of the materials. The mechanical and physical properties of Tensile, flexural strength and elastic modulus of the kenaf fibre-
banana fibres, silica micro-particles incorporated epoxy composites reinforced composites increased linearly up to a fibre content of 50%.
were carried out by Silva et al. [108]. They have reported that the The shape, size, and strength of the plant fibres may vary widely
volume fraction and silica addition affected the porosity, tensile depending on cultivation environment, region of origin, and other
strength, modulus of elasticity, and flexural modulus of the composites. characteristics. Features of the plantfibres are likely to influence the
The chopped snake grass fibre reinforced composite has been prepared mechanical properties of the PFRCs. Mylsamy and Rajendran [118]
by using polyester resin and the mechanical properties of these reported the mechanical properties, deformation and thermo-mechan-
composites are evaluated by Sathishkumar et al. [109]. The experiment ical properties of untreated and alkali treated agave fibre reinforced
showed that the tensile strength, flexural strength and modulus of the epoxy composites.
snake grass fibre composite increases with increase the volume fraction The treated palmyra palm leaf stalk fibre and jute fibres were used
of the fibre. as reinforcement in polyester matrix and the mechanical properties
The fibre orientation, volume fraction, type of treatment and were evaluated by Shanmugam and Thiruchitrambalam [119]. The
physical characteristics of the plant fibres significantly influence the fibres were aligned unidirectionally in bi-layer arrangement and
mechanical behavior of composites and the most important key in fabricated by using compression moulding process. It has been
designing of PFRCs is the interfacial adhesion of the fibre with the observed that, there is the increase in tensile and flexural properties
matrix [110]. The hybrid composites based on the borassus fruit fibre of the composites as compared to the treated palm leaf stalk fibre
and polypropylene (PP) are fabricated with different fibre composition composites. The tensile and flexural properties of tri-layered oil palm
of 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% weight by using injection moulding process empty fruit bunches/woven jute fibre reinforced composites has been
[111]. The tensile and flexural properties are found to increase with evaluated and compared with pure empty fruit bunches fibre compo-
10% and 15% fibre loadings and decreased for 5% and 20% fibre sites by Jawaid et al. [120]. The results indicated that the tensile and
loadings. Coir, jute and sisal fibre composites are also fabricated with flexural properties of pure empty fruit bunches composites could be
15% weight fibre loading under the same conditions and the mechan- improved by hybridization with woven jute fibre and also found that
ical strengths were found out. The mechanical strengths of the borassus the tensile and flexural properties of hybrid composite is higher than
fruit fibre/PP composites were equivalent to jute/PP, sisal/PP and that of empty fruit bunches composite but less than woven jute fibre
superior to coir/PP composites. Jute/PP and sisal/PP composites composites.
showed higher water absorption than borassus fruit fibre/PP and The mechanical properties of untreated jute and sisal fibre re-
coir/PP composites. By changing the orientation of the fibre, the inforced composites and alkali treated epoxy composites are evaluated
material properties can be modified to the external loads. For instance, and the results are compared [121]. It was found that the treated jute
PFRCs combine a high stiffness and strength with a low weight and and sisal fibre reinforced epoxy composites exhibited better mechanical
their corrosion resistance is often excellent. Srinivasa et al. [112] properties than the untreated one. Jute fibre reinforced poly vinyl
carried out the physical and mechanical properties of composites made chloride (PVC) composites and glass fibre reinforced PVC composites
by randomly distributed areca fibres. The results showed that the were prepared, and the mechanical properties of these composites are
flexural and impact strength increases with increasing the percentage evaluated [122]. It was found that there is a significant improvement in
of fibre loading. Edeerozey et al. [113] prepared kenaf fibre reinforced tensile strength, tensile modulus, bending strength, bending modulus
composites and found out the improved mechanical properties of kenaf and impact strength of GFRCs. Treated and untreated jute and glass
fibres with alkalization treatment. The incorporation of kenaf fibre into fibres reinforced composites have been prepared by hand layup
the thermoplastic natural rubber matrix resulted in an improvement in technique under 275 MPa pressure at 150 °C and properties of these

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

using RoHM equation gives the tensile properties of the hybrid

composites slightly higher than the experimental values [129]. The
tensile strengths of uncoated and coated sisal fibre composites were
evaluated and the results are compared [133]. From the results, it is
observed that the uncoated sisal fibre composites are performing better
than the coated one. The sisal and banana fibres based structural bio-
composites with the addition of silica micro particles and maleic
anhydride are developed and the experimental results are generated
through a design of experiments (DoE) approach by Silva et al. [134].
From the experiment they observed that, the banana fibres exhibited
higher stiffness than sisal fibres moreover the sisal fibres shown the
higher tensile strength than the banana fibres. They further identified
that, the mechanical behavior under tensile loading for both the fibres
Fig. 3. Typical tensile stress/strain curves of the banana fibre composites.
is similar and the addition of maleic anhydride increases the tensile
strength and tenacity. Sisal and oil palm fibres are incorporated into
composites are evaluated [123]. The result showed that fairly good natural rubber matrix and the influence of fibre ratio of these
mechanical and electrical properties and indicated their industrial composites were analyzed [135]. A positive effect was observed for
applications in construction, electrical and electronics industries. tensile properties and the longitudinally oriented composite samples
showed better tensile properties than transversely oriented composite
3.3.1. Tensile properties samples.
A tensile test involves placing the test specimen in a testing Tensile properties, void content and chemical resistance of palm/
machine, subjecting it to loading until it fractures. The tensile force jute fibre reinforced composites were carried out by Jawaid et al. [136].
is recorded as a function of the increase in gauge length. During the They have prepared composites by taking palm fibre as skin and jute as
application of tension, the elongation of the gauge section is recorded core material. They observed that there is significant improvement in
against the applied force [1]. Tensile properties of composites are tensile properties while using jute fibre as skin and palm fibre as core
determined based on tensile strength and tensile modulus. The tensile material. Jawaid et al. [137] conducted experiment on the effect of jute
strength depends on how well the stress can be transferred from the fibre loading on tensile and dynamic mechanical properties of oil palm
broken to the surviving fibres through shear in the resin at the interface composites. They have reported that the tensile properties of jute oil
and the amount of stress a sample can withstand before failure palm fibre composites are increased substantially with increasing the
occurred [124]. Tensile testing of banana/glass fibresreinforced com- content of jute fibre loading as compared to oil palm composites. The
posites were carried out in a universal testing machine at a cross head effect of matrix modification of jute/PP composites has been analyzed
speed of 10 mm/min. Specimens were prepared by mounting fibres on and found that the tensile strength of the jute fibre is directly
a stiff card board piece with a 50 mm window. The ends of fibres were proportional to the cross sectional area of the fibre [138]. Fig. 3 which
fixed on the cardboard [125]. Arbelaiz et al. [126] evaluated the is reproduced from [139] shows the typical tensile stress–strain curves
mechanical properties of flax fibre/PP composites and studied the of the various treated banana fibre composites. The improvement in the
influence of fibre/matrix modification and glass fibre hybridization. tensile strength in the case of fibres treated with alkali of higher
They have reported that the tensile strength and modulus of glass/flax concentration can be attributed to the various reasons.
fibre composites depend on the glass/flax ratio.
Thwe and Liao [127] have analyzed the ability of bamboo and glass 3.3.2. Flexural properties
fibre reinforced composites and reported that there is a significant By the application of flexural force, the upper and lower surface of
improvement in strength due to the incorporation of bamboo fibres the specimen under three point bending is subjected to shear stress. So
with glass fibre. The properties such as tensile strength and elastic there are two failure modes in the materials; bending and shear failure.
modulus of bamboo/glass fibre reinforced composites have been The specimen fails when bending or shear stress reaches the corre-
evaluated. The results indicated that the tensile strength and elastic sponding critical value. The modes of failure of the composites under
modulus decreased after ageing of fibres. The tensile strength and three point bending can be obtained from the force deflection curves
modulus of short, randomly oriented PFRCs are found out by experi- [140]. The three point flexural properties were determined according to
mentally and comparing the results by using rule of hybrid mixture ASTM D790 standards. The load vs. displacement curves was obtained
(RoHM) [128,129]. Amada et al. [130] estimated the tensile strength, and flexural strength and modulus were calculated [125]. The flexural
modulus and bulk density of bamboo bundle sheaths by using RoHM properties of chemically treated PFRCs are slightly higher than the non
equation. They found that the tensile strength, modulus and density treated composites [141]. Mixing of plant fibre with glass fibre
have been increased with increase of fibre content and also the process reinforced polymers is finding increased applications in many fields
of chemical extraction reduces the tensile strength and modulus. and there is a significant improvement in flexural properties [98]. Yao
Mechanical properties of ethylene vinyl acetate and cellulose acetate and Li [142] carried out a thorough investigation on flexural properties
composite containing plantfibres evaluated by Alam et al. [131]. They of bamboo fibre reinforced sandwich composites. The results showed
found that, the tensile strength of ethylene vinyl acetate composite that the flexural strength can be improved for composites reinforced
decreases with increasing fibre loading and increases for cellulose with bamboo fibre on the bottom, which formed a tension layer and the
acetate composite with increasing fibre loading. mortar sheet on the top that acts as compressive layer.
Charlet et al. [132] investigated the tensile properties of PFRCs The mechanical properties of composites reinforced with sisal fibres
made up of using flax fibre. The tensile behavior has been studied by has been considerably improved by adding silica micro particles,
taking into account the specific morphology of these fibres. The interaction between the silica particles are having significant effect on
modeling of the mechanical behavior of the composite requires an tensile strength and modulus of elasticity [143]. The addition of silica
exact description of the tensile deformation of fibres that take into did not affect the flexural strength while the interaction between the
account the large scattering of the properties and dimensions of flax fractions of fibres and silica particles are playing the major role on the
fibres. The sisal/banana fibre reinforced composite specimens are flexural modulus. In order to improve the physical adhesion of
prepared and tensile properties of these composites are examined by polymeric composites, the silica micro particles are added and in-
using RoHM. As the outcome of the result, the values predicted by vestigated its effect on mechanical properties. The addition of silica

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increasing the weight fraction of the fibre more by than 20 wt%, the
flexural strength and modulus decreased; this is possibly due to fibre-
to-fibre interaction, void content and dispersion problems. As dis-
cussed earlier, the maximum value of the flexural modulus was at 20 wt
% and it was about 4.3 GPa, for treated and treated with post curing
composites [146].

3.3.3. Impact properties

The impact performance of PFRCs depends on many factors
including the nature of the constituent, fibre/matrix interface, matrix
fracture, fibre pullout, the construction and geometry of the composite
and test conditions [147]. To simulate actual impact by a foreign
Fig. 4. Typical flexural stress/strain curve of banana fibre composites. object, a number of test procedures have been suggested by many
researchers. The initial kinetic energy of the projectile is an important
particles exhibited significant effect on tensile strength. Rao et al. [144] parameter to be considered, but several other factors also affect the
have taken the volume fraction of the fibre as the main factor and response of the structure. A large mass with low initial velocity may not
reported that the tensile properties of vakka fibre composites increase cause the same amount of damage as a smaller mass with higher
with volume fraction of fibre, whereas the flexural properties are closer velocity, even if the kinetic energies are exactly the same. Izod impact
to the sisal fibre composites and greater than that of the banana fibre test was done on notched specimen with an impact speed of 3.46 m/s
composites. The experimental study on properties of jute fibre re- and incident energy of 2.75 J according to ASTM D256 standards
inforced composites with the fibre and matrix is in the ratio of 70:30 by [125].
volume has been conducted [145]. The compression and flexural tests Ruksakulpiwat et al. [148] investigated the impact properties of
were performed and stress-strain curves are showed a linear passion at PFRCs and observed that the significant improvement in the impact
initial loading followed by yield and plastic deformation. The storage strength and elongation of break with plant fibre content more than
modulus strongly dependent on temperature and the acid digestion test 20% by weight. Dhakal et al. [149] conducted experiment to study the
result confirmed that the fibre content of 70% by volume yielded better impact response of hemp fibre reinforced composites. They have taken
results. The flexural yield strength is found to be higher at lower alkali different volume fraction (Vf) of fibres and compared the impact
concentration. Fig. 4 shows the typical stress vs. strain curve of banana responses. The result showed that 0.21Vf of hemp fibre reinforced
fibre reinforced composites. From the figure it is found that the flexural composite absorbed more energy than energy absorbed by the equiva-
stress is to be the maximum for treated composites [139]. lent Vf of GFRCs. Panthapulakkal and Sain [150] studied the mechan-
Results in Fig. 5 shows the effects of fibre loading, alkali treatment ical, water absorption and thermal properties of hemp/glass fibre
and post curing addition of kenaf fibre reinforced composites. Both composites. They have observed that there is the significant improve-
flexural strength and modulus were found to increase significantly as ment in flexural and impact properties by hybridizing the hemp fibres
the fibre weight fraction increased until 20 wt%. At a low fibre weight with glass fibre. Anuar and Zuraida [151] analyzed the improvement in
fraction, the fibre ends act as stress concentrations and causes the bond mechanical properties of kenaf fibre reinforced composite by blending
between the fibre and matrix to break under low level of loading. At a impact modifier with the composites. The result indicated that the
higher weight fraction, the matrix is sufficiently restrained and the impact strength is greatly improved for treated kenaf fibre composites.
stress is more evenly distributed. Meanwhile, the increment of flexural Jena et al. [152] studied the effect of bamboo fibre composite filled
strength was still beyond the virgin unsaturated polyester resin. with cenosphere. They have reported that the impact properties of
Generally the treated short fibre composites with post curing gave these composites are greatly influenced by addition of cenosphere as
higher flexural modulus values compared to the untreated fibres. It is filler. For a given laminated composite, the impact strength is increased
evident that the adhesion between the fibre and matrix improved with with addition of filler up to a certain limit and after which it is
alkali treatment. For untreated fibre, the maximum flexural strength decreased on further addition. The results indicated that the impact
was at 10 wt%, while with treated fibre the trend of the increasing of properties are depends on the concentration of the fillers and decrease
strength increased with increase of the fibre content until 20 wt%. The in density of the composites which are also greatly depended on the
same trend was observed for treated fibre with post curing. By content of fillers and fibre. The effect of varying geometries on impact
characteristics of hemp fibre reinforced composites subjected to impact

Fig. 5. (a) Flexural strength and (b) flexural modulus comparisons of kenaf fibre composites.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

loading were examined by Dhaka et al. [153]. They have conducted the
experiment by using three different geometry of specimen and four
different impact velocities. The result indicted that the hemispherical
specimens are able to withstand higher loads and absorb more energy
than other specimen. Wood fibre reinforced PP composites with 40%,
50% and 60% fibre content by weight have been prepared and their
impact properties were tested [154]. From the test, it has been
observed that the impact strength decreased with increasing moisture
content and maximum force required for testing was also increased
with increase in moisture content. It is also found that soft long wood
fibre composites performed better impact resistance than hard short
wood fibre composites.
Bax and Mussig [155] fabricated the composite specimen with
Fig. 6. Comparison of impact strengths at different styrene concentrations.
cordenka rayon and flax fibres by using injection moulding process.
They conducted experiment and the mechanical properties of these
3.3.4. Fatigue properties
composites have been evaluated and the results are compared with the
Scarpa et al. [161] conducted experiment on the tensile and fatigue
GFRCs. The highest impact strength was observed by adding PLA with
behavior of sisal fibres and its composites. The diameter, Young's
cordenka rayon fibre. Yuanjian and Isaac [156] studied the impact and
modulus, strength and strain to failure over 15 different samples are
fatigue behavior of hemp fibre composites and compared the results
measured and compared against data from open literature. Brunner
with GFRCs which is subjected to similar tests. They found that the
et al. [162] developed a standardized procedure for the characterization
hemp fibre composites performed poor resistance to impact and failed
of inter-laminar delamination propagation in advanced composites
in a brittle manner without any visible signs of damage. Ghasemnejad
under fatigue loading conditions. Three different approaches for
et al. [157] have done the experiment to improve the impact damage
delamination determination have been compared. A standard test
response of flax fibre reinforced composites. The composites were
procedure defining the limits of applicability. A trial and error
prepared and charpy impact test was conducted to evaluate the energy
procedure to find suitable start values of load and displacement, that
absorbing capability of the material. It was observed that the compo-
will yield sufficiently fast delamination propagation turned out to be
sites were able to arrest the crack propagation and absorb more energy.
time-consuming. The test performed under displacement control, from
Ramakrishna and Soundararajan [77] investigated the resistance to
a pre-crack obtained under quasi-static conditions according to, the
impact loading of cement mortar reinforced with plant fibres and
initial displacement value for fatigue shall be the last value recorded
subjected to impact loading by using a projectile test. Four different
from the quasi-static test. Data acquisition recorded sufficient load and
fibre contents and three fibre lengths were used for investigation. The
displacement values for a compliance based determination of delami-
results showed that the addition of the plant fibres has increased the
nation. Fracture resistance and fatigue crack growth behavior of blast
impact resistance by 3–18 times greater than that of the plain mortar
furnace slag cement reinforced with pulped fibres of sisal, banana and
bleached eucalyptus pulp was observed by Savastano et al. [163]. They
Wang et al. [158] analyzed the low velocity impact properties of
concluded that the fracture toughness of the blast furnace slag
composites made by using Kevlar 129, basalt fibres and epoxy resin
reinforced with plant fibre pulps greater than the plain cement paste
with cement mortar. The result showed that the higher ductile indices,
and the fibres are well preserved even after two years of exposure to the
lower peak load and higher specific energy absorption than plain
cement environment. Dick et al. [164] conducted bending tests on glass
cement mortar composites. The mechanical properties of composites
filled polycarbonate composites, to evaluate the fatigue life and the
with man-made cellulose and abaca fibres have been evaluated [159].
residual strength after the cyclic loading and observed that the fatigue
The composites were fabricated by using combined moulding method
strength increases with increase of cyclic loading.
followed by two-step extrusion process and injection moulding. By
The S-N curve of hemp/polyester composites with an average fibre
adding 30 wt% of man-made cellulose, the charpy impact strength at
weight fraction of 52% is shown in Fig. 7. The dashed lines in the figure
ambient temperature has been increased. The plant fibres showed a
represent the 95% confidence limit of the linear regression line. The
much better potential as reinforcement than man-made fibre and abaca
variability of properties of hemp fibres is expected to result in random
fibres seem to allow a higher composite stiffness. Wambuva et al. [160]
accumulation of damage in the composites and, therefore, it is not
studied the anti-ballistic characteristics of flax, hemp and jute fibres
surprising to see scatter in the data points with some lying outside the
reinforced composites with or without a mild steel backing under
95% confidence limit. The best-fit regression line shows gradual decline
impact ballistic conditions. The relationships between the initial and
in fatigue strength with increase in the number of fatigue cycles. The
residual kinetic energies after impact was found while the impact
regression line predicts an endurance limit of about 20 MPa for the
velocity as a function of residual velocity. The composites have an
composite at 1 million cycles which corresponded well with the
advantage over mild steel than the plain composites in terms of energy
experimental data as shown by arrowheads. Hence a stress level of
absorption. Incorporation of jute fibre into GFRCs enhances the
up to 20 MPa can be taken as a safe value for endurance limit for this
mechanical properties of composites and layering sequence signifi-
cantly affects the flexural and inter-laminar shear strengths. The
charpy impact test results for composites at different weight fractions
of untreated kenaf fibre for different styrene concentrations are 3.3.5. Fracture damage analysis
presented in Fig. 6. It can be seen that the composites have the same Kim et al. [165] compared frequency-based damage detection
trend for various styrene concentrations. It is observed that the (FBDD) and mode-shape-based damage (MBDD) methods for fracture
optimum toughness is at 20 wt% fibre weight fraction for both damage analysis. It is identified that, by applying the MBDD approach
composites. The composite containing 40% styrene generally did better to the test structure, the damage could be located accurately. The
than the 50% which indicates that the brittleness of material increased predicted locations were identical to the inflicted locations. It was also
with increase of styrene concentrations. The impact strength was observed that the severity of the damage could be estimated accurately
10.63 kJ/m2 at 20 wt% of 40% styrene, while 50% styrene of the same for the cracks located at the mid-span and the prediction accuracy
weight percentage was 7.47 kJ/m2. The increasing percentage was decreased for the cracks at the quarter-span. Yan et al. [166] developed
about 30%. a vibration-based structural damage detection technique. Using non-

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 7. S-N curve of hemp fibre composites.

destructive examination (NDE) method to detect damage status of 3.3.6. Stress-strain analysis
engineering structures has become a hotspot and difficult issue. Local- Virk et al. [169] conducted an exploration on design criterion
damage detection techniques refer to non-destructive testing (NDT) as responsible for the failure strain fracture of PFRCs. PFRCs are often
CT scanning and ultrasonic, etc., because it is mainly used to detect considered to be problematic because of the high variability in their
local damage in structures, and it can determine damage existence and mechanical properties. The fibre strength does have high variability,
its location. Local damage detection methods utilize only data obtained which arises from the difficulty of determining an accurate fibre cross-
from the damaged structure. In order to detect damage throughout the sectional area. Failure strain is more consistent as this property is
whole structure, especially some large, complicated structures, a independent of the fibre cross-section. Therefore it is recommended
methodology called global vibration-based structural damage detection that the use of failure strain as the key design criterion for PFRCs
has been used. The traditional type refers to detection method for would expedite the adoption of these materials in the market. The
structural damage only utilizing itself mechanical characteristics of variation in the mechanical properties of the jute fibres was analyzed
structures, such as natural frequencies, modal damping, modal strain using the coefficient of variation. As the fibre diameter increases, the
energy or modal shapes, etc. The modern type refers to detection fibre strength decreases. The commercial use of plant fibres as
method for structural damage based on online measured response reinforcement for composites is constrained by a perceived high
signal of structures in service. The structural damage detection can be variability in strength. Use of optical microscopy to determine fibre
divided into five levels: (1) identification of damage existence in a diameter and hence cross-sectional area may explain this difference as
structure; (2) localization of damage; (3) identification of the damage the strength is normally calculated from an assumed cross sectional
type; (4) quantification of damage severity; and (5) prediction of the area.
remaining service life of the structure. The traditional type vibration Wagner and Balzani [170] stimulated, delamination in stringer
based structural damage detection method is mainly based on the stiffened fibre reinforced composite shells. For an enhanced exploita-
natural vibration characteristics of the structures. The vibration based tion of material reserves, fracture mechanisms should be taken into
structural damage detection is a high technique with widely applied consideration. The delamination and skin–stringer separation are
foreground, and also it is involved in interaction development among examined in the framework of the finite element method. A finite
multi-disciplines. In practice the collectable sample data of structural element formulation for a solid-like interface element has been derived
damage is always insufficient and limited, and it is also costly and time based on the formulation of standard eight node continuum elements.
consuming to obtain structural damage samples by a large number of The constitutive equations have been introduced in the framework of a
experiments, obtaining multitudinous structural damage samples has cohesive zone approach for the inter-laminar stresses. The model
to depend on numeric simulations by establishing dynamics model of contains a quadratic interaction criterion for the prediction of delami-
the damaged structure. To construct and extract the feature index of nation onset under mixed mode loading conditions. Numerical exam-
small structural damage from structural vibration responses are the key ples have been presented which showed the applicability of the model
issue for successful damage detection. The structural damage detection to predict delamination in laminated composites as well as skin
based on structural dynamics must be involved in nonlinear problems. stringer separation in stiffened curved composite panels.
Blackman et al. [167] approached a new look in fracture testing of
composites and utilizes an effective crack length and if successful, may 3.4. Moisture/water absorption properties
eliminate the need to measure this parameter experimentally. To
accommodate the new approach, an existing test protocol based on Moisture absorption is one of the most undesirable factors in
the end-loaded split (ELS) method has been revised and some data plant fibres because it reduces the interfacial adhesion between the
measured using this scheme. The longer specimens enable the flexural fibre and matrix [171]. The hydrophilic behavior of plant fibres causes
modulus to be determined via either a three point bend flexural test, or difficulty in attaining a good adhesion between fibre/matrix and
via an inverse ELS test, in which the section of the specimen containing contributes to high water absorption of the plant fibre, which weakens
the insert film is held fully within the clamp, and the simple cantilever the composite product in applications [172]. The water absorption on
beam may then be loaded in the ELS apparatus. The new approach has the PFRCs is a crucial limitation for the product application because
been applied to a number of different composite laminate materials plant fibre absorbs more water compared with synthetic fibre [173].
tested using the ELS method. Silva et al. [168] have developed the Water in PFRCs can be transported through several plant mechanisms.
natural fibres/castor oil polyurethane composites and tested the Micro cracks in the polymer matrix can enable the water molecules to
fracture toughness. They have achieved the best fracture toughness penetrate, while micro gaps between polymer molecular chains may
performance for sisal fibre composites. allow the inward diffusion of water molecules. In addition, the capillary

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

treatments, due to the reduction of the polar components of their

surface energies. Venkateswaran et al. [128] investigated the mechan-
ical and water absorption properties of banana/sisal fibres reinforced
composites for taking the length of the fibre and weight percentage are
main constituents. From the investigation, they found that the in-
corporation of sisal fibre with banana/epoxy composites up to 50% by
weight increasing the mechanical properties and decreasing the water
absorption properties. Sisal fibre and wood flour reinforced composites
are prepared by using bisphenolic and isophthalic thermosets [178].
The mechanical and water absorption properties of these composites
have been evaluated. The results showed that the improved interfacial
adhesion, modulus and maximum stress for the composites. George
et al. [179] investigated the dielectric behavior of jute/PP yarn
Fig. 8. Moisture absorption curves (JF-jute fibre, SF-sisal fibre, SGFRPC-sisal/glass composites based on the fibre content, chemical treatments, tempera-
fibre-reinforced polyester composites, JGFRPC-jute/glass fibre reinforced polyester ture and moisture. They observed that the dielectric constant, loss
composites, and SJGFRPC-sisal/jute/glass fibre-reinforced polyester composites). factor and conductivity increased with fibre content whereas the
volume resistivity decreased due to the orientational polarization in
effect may transport water through the fibre/matrix interface. These jute fibre reinforced composites. The dielectric constants and conduc-
phenomena cause unwanted deformation or changes in the properties, tivities of chemically treated composites was less than that of the
such as swelling, plasticizing and even degradation. Flaws such as untreated one as a result of reduction in orientational polarization and
micro-voids caused by incompatibility of the hydrophobic resin and the moisture absorbance.
hydrophilic plant fibres may further cause water retention [94]. The moisture absorption curves some plantfibres and its compo-
Moisture absorption, influence of water ageing on mechanical sites are presented in Fig. 8, where percentage of water absorbed is
properties and durability in water are major problems for PFRCs. A plotted against the immersion time. It is clear from the figure, that the
study has been carried out to overcome these problems by investigating composites absorb water very rapidly in the initial stage until a
the effect of immersion characteristics on tensile properties, water saturation level is attained, without further increase in water absorp-
absorption and acoustic emission of flax fibre composites and the tion. The high cellulose content in plant fibres contribute to more water
results are compared with GFRCs [174]. From the comparison it is penetrating into the interface through the micro-cracks induced by
found that the weight gain of the flax fibre composites is twelve times as swelling of fibres, thus creating swelling stresses leading to composite
high that of the GFRCs and tensile modulus and failure strain of flax failure. The figure further revealed that the hybridization of plant fibres
fibre composites are hardly affected by water ageing. The water with glass fibre reducing the water absorption content significantly
absorption percentage was determined using Eq. (1). [45]. The percentage of water absorption in the composites depend on
M1 − M0 two parameters, such as fibre content and environment temperatures.
Moistureabsorption (%) = ×100 The results showed that the water absorption increased with increase of
M0 (1)
fibre content and surrounding temperature as shown in Fig. 9. It can be
Where M0 is the weight of dry specimen and M1 is the weight of wet seen that the composites absorbed water very rapidly at the initial
specimen at time t. stage, and later at 335 h and 671 h at 50 °C and 25 °C, respectively. A
Din et al. [175] investigated the moisture absorption properties of saturation level was attained without any further increase in water
coconut shell based composites under the influence of CO2 flow. absorption [146].
Beforehand, the coconut shell was carbonized and impregnated with
potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution and found that there is the 3.5. Lifecycle assessment (LCA)
significant improvement in absorption characteristics. Zamri et al.
[176] studied the mechanical properties of jute/glass fibres reinforced LCA is a technique for assessing the environmental aspects and
composites with water absorption condition. Composites are subjected potential impacts associated with a product, by.
to water absorption characteristics and tests were performed by
immersing composite specimen in to three different water conditions, 1. compiling an inventory of relevant inputs and outputs of a product
viz., distilled water, sea water and acidic water, for a period of three system;
weeks at room temperature. The effect of the various water environ- 2. evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with
ments on the flexural and compression characteristics were investi- those inputs and outputs;
gated and found that the jute fibre compositesare not suitable for 3. interpreting the results of the inventory analysis and impact assess-
underwater applications. The moisture absorption test was conducted ment phases in relation to the objectives of the study.
by immersing the composite samples into distilled water for 10 days.
The weight difference can be used to determine the water absorption LCA studies the environmental aspects and potential impacts
rate. The rate of percentage weight increase was recorded for 10 days at throughout a product's life from raw material acquisition through
different time intervals. Prior to the test, the moisture content in the production, use and end of life management options such as recycling,
composite specimens was removed by placing them in the oven at incineration and disposal. LCA takes a comprehensive cradle to grave
80 °C until no mass change could be measured. The samples were then or cradle to cradle approach thus avoiding focus on only specific life
immersed and removed from water, and then all of the water on the cycle stages in product environmental performance evaluation [90].
sample was removed with a cloth or tissue paper [94]. LCA of wood fibre reinforced composites fabricated by compression
Mondragon et al. [177] discussed the various effects of fibre moulding has been conducted and confirmed that the usage of wood
treatment on wettability and mechanical behavior of flax/PP compo- fibres in composites has mild effect on environmental damages [88].
sites. The reports showed that the effects of different treatments on the Rawat and Attia [180] approached a wear mechanisms and tool life
fibre matrix compatibility in terms of surface energy and mechanical management of drills during dry high speed drilling of woven carbon
properties of composites. The treatment effects on the fibres have been fibre composites. Tool wear was evaluated at spindle speeds of up to
characterized by infrared spectroscopy. The wettability characteristics 15,000 rpm using a standard two flute drill. It was found that chipping
of both flax fibres and pulps can be improved by the action of chemical and abrasion were the main mechanisms controlling the deterioration

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 9. Water absorption of kenaf fibre composites at temperature of (a) 25 °C and (b) 50 °C.

k 0 = w /(ρ × L × F ) (2)

where k0 is the specific wear rate in m3/Nm, w is the weight loss in g,

ρ is the density of sample,
L is the sliding distance in m, and F is the applied load in N [181].
Faraz et al. [182] innovated a tool wear criteria were,the carbon
fibre reinforced composites (CFRCs), owing to their anisotropy and
abrasive nature of their carbon fibre content, exhibit totally different
drilling results as compared to those of drilling common metals and
other materials. Wear is majorly smooth and uniform, and it is
observed as a rounded pattern along the entire cutting edge of a tool.
The drilling tests were carried out on a 3-axis vertical CNC machining
center, with a maximum spindle speed and power of 15,000 rpm and
8 kW, respectively. Introducing and testing an innovative tool wear
characteristic in drilling of composites using carbide tools was success-
fully conducted. Measurement of the wear on an individual cutting
edge for a drill bit, with a specialized design and complex shape and
geometry, is much easier and accurate. It is concluded that, the
measurement of its flank wear using conventional techniques, could
be much more difficult due to not only its complex tool shape, rather a
Fig. 10. Life cycle of PFRCs. very little wear magnitude, diffused and diluted over its multiple, long
cutting edges. Dwivedi and Chand [183] studied the effect of increasing
of drill. Tool life results revealed that the increase in the delamination load on the abrasive wear behavior of sisal composites and found that
and surface roughness with transition from the primary to tertiary wear the wear rate is decreased when the applied load increases.
regime. The correlation between tool wear, delamination damage and
surface roughness was established. Finally it was accomplished that a
3.7. Vibration/frequency analysis
tool replacement strategy could be devised by monitoring the cutting
forces. The life cycle of PFRCs is presented in Fig. 10 [90].
Voyiadjis et al. [184] anticipatedan analytical formulation for the
vibration analysis of the composite beams with arbitrary lateral,
longitudinal, and both multiple delamination. Multiple delaminations
3.6. Wear properties significantly affect the dynamic characteristics of composite laminated
beams. Experimental work was performed on the delaminated beam
Abrasive wear studies were carried out under multi-pass condition specimen made by semi-autoclave. Delamination was made by insert-
on a pin-on-disc type wear testing machine. Abrasive paper of 400 ing Teflon film between the interfaces of pre-pregs. An analytical
grades was pasted on a rotating disc using double-sided adhesive tape. formulation of the composite beams for the vibration analysis was
The sample pin was fixed in a holder and was abraded under different studied to show the effects of size and location of multiple delamina-
applied loads for five intervals of 5 min where each time interval tions on the natural frequencies. Lateral multiple delamination with a
corresponds to a sliding distance of 94.25 m. The effects of various constant delamination length through the thickness, the frequency
loads and sliding velocity in a track radius 40 mm were studied. The linearly decreases as the number of delamination increases. The effects
samples were cleaned by using acetone thinner to remove any debris of longitudinal multiple delaminations on the natural frequencies show
adhered to sample before and after each test. The weight loss was that there exists some similarity to the results of the lateral multi-
recorded by weighing the pin to an accuracy of 1×10−3g using an delamination cases.
electronic balance after each run. The specific wear rate (k0) was Luo and Hanagud [185] conducted an experiment on dynamics of
calculated using Eq. (2). delaminated beams. Shear effect and rotary inertia terms, as well as

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

bending extension coupling, are taken into account in the governing composites had to be cut into thin circular shape, and their surfaces
equations of vibration. Nonlinear interaction, due piece wise linear were polished. Then graphite coating was given on their surfaces to
spring models between the delaminated sub-laminates, is included. make surface conducting and for allowing measurements over fre-
Based on this model, Eigen solutions for vibrations of intact and quency interval from 100 Hz to 1 MHz [126]. From Fig. 11, it is
delaminated beams are found analytically. Based on the nonlinear inferred that the dielectric constant and the dielectric loss initially
model for a delaminated beam, conceptually there is no natural reduce and attain a steady state with an increase in frequency. This
frequency as there is for intact beams. When the delamination length may be due to the fact that (i) dielectric behavior is dependent on
is small and is located close to the geometric mid-plane, there is no porosity, (ii) on material properties, and also on (iii) interface bonding
significant delamination opening in the first mode and the nonlinear in case of composite materials. However, it is found that making a
model approaches a linear model. The delamination is large and close composite with these wastes, using a polymerbinder, is best suited for
to the beam surface, a delamination opening exists in vibrations. Mode providing good mechanical strength without sacrificing its dielectric
shape predictions also reflect the experimental phenomena. Based on a property. Impregnation of plant fibre helps in the interface bonding
nonlinear modal analysis technique, the developed model has the and distribution of absorbed moisture in the material which may be
ability to predict the nonlinear dynamic responses. This model one of the reasons for change in dielectric properties. With increase
provides a better understanding of a delaminated beam, which will, infrequency, the dielectric constant of the composites decreases due to
in turn, help to develop new delamination detection schemes based on dielectric relaxation. From structural point of view,the dielectric
structural dynamic response. relaxation involves oriental polarization which in turn depends on
Della and Shu [186] conducted a free vibration analysis of molecular arrangement of the dielectric material. At high frequency,
composite beams with overlapping delamination. The free vibrations the rotational motion of polarmolecule is not sufficiently rapid for
of composite beams with two overlapping delamination have been attainment of equilibrium with applied field, hence dielectric constant
solved analytically without resorting to numerical approximation. The decreases. As the reinforcement content increases, the dielectric
delaminated beam is analyzed using the delamination as their bound- constant also increases. Dielectric loss of the composite shows a
aries. The continuity and equilibrium conditions are satisfied between stabilizing trend with an increase in frequency which appears to be a
the adjoining regions of the beams. Lower and upper bounds of the beneficial from application point of view [187].
natural frequencies of the delaminated beams are identified by assum-
ing totally free and totally constrained deformations of the delaminated 3.9. Thermal properties
layers, respectively. Results showed that the dominating influence of
the longer delamination on the natural frequency of the beam. Similar The thermal properties of the jute and banana fibre were obtained
trends were observed for the second mode frequency and mode shape by performing thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA) and heat deflection
of the cantilever beam and the fundamental frequency and mode shape temperature (HDT) analysis. TGA measures the amount and rate of
of the clamped beam. Delamination may not be visible or barely visible change in the weight of a material as a function of temperature or time
on the surface, since they are embedded within the composite in a controlled atmosphere. Measurements are used primarily to
structures. It is therefore important to understand the influence of determine the composition of materials and to predict their thermal
the delamination on the vibration characteristics of the structures. In stability at temperature up to 1000 °C. The technique can characterize
practice, multiple delamination frequently occur in composite lami- materials that exhibit weight loss or gain due to decomposition,
nates, such as those resulting from transverse impact. The natural oxidation or dehydration [188]. The thermo physical properties of
frequency of the delaminated beams further decreases due to the PFRCs are carried out by Idicula et al. [189]. They have identified that
influence of the bending-extension. An exact solution to the free the incorporation of plant fibres with glass fibre improves the heat
vibration of composite beams with two overlapping delamination is transport ability of the materials significantly. Cicala et al. [190] have
obtained for the first time. studied the properties and performances of various glass/plant fibre
composites for the applications in curved pipes. The mechanical,
3.8. Dielectric loss thermal and morphological properties of polycarprolactone and bam-
boo fibre composites are evaluated and found that noticeably improved
Dielectric measurements were carried out with the help of a mechanical properties due to better compatibility between the compo-
Solartron 1296 impedance analyzer. For that, the samples of the nents [191]. Rezaei et al. [192] conducted a study on the effect of fibre

Fig. 11. Variation of (a) dielectric constant and (b) dielectric loss with frequency.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

low temperature weight loss occurs at 200 °C was assign to removal of

solvent. The major weight loss occurs at 380 °C is due to degradation of
resin and fibres. In this case the degradation has taken place at higher
temperature. The TGA result of 75% jute and 25% banana fibre
reinforced composites are illustrated that, the initial low temperature
weight loss occurs at 200 °C corresponds to removal of solvent in
polymer matrix. The major weight loss occurs around 380 °C due to
degradation and volatization of matrix along with fibres. The residue
that formed after degradation requires higher temperature for subse-
quent degradation. The final residue of this analysis was stable up to
800 °C. The TGA result of 25% jute and 75% banana fibre reinforced
with epoxy hybrid composite was showed that the initial low tempera-
Fig. 12. Combined TGA results of jute/banana fibre reinforced composites. ture weight loss occurs at 200 °C corresponds to removal of solvent in
polymer matrix. The major weight loss occurs at 380 °C due to
length on thermo-mechanical properties of short CFRCs. Short CFRCs degradation of matrix along with fibres present in the composite
was prepared with melt blending and hot-pressing techniques. The sample. The residue that formed after degradation requires higher
thermo-mechanical properties of this composite were investigated temperature for subsequent degradation. The degradation of final
taking into account the combined effect of mean fibre length. residue occurs at 660 °C. The TGA result of banana fibre reinforced
Thermal stability of the composite was studied via TGA and dynamic with epoxy was indicated that the initial low temperature weight loss
mechanical analysis (DMA) was used to measure the damping proper- occurs at 190 °C corresponds to removal of solvent in polymer matrix.
ties of the composites. The major weight loss occurs again at 380 °C due to the same reason.
The residue that formed after degradation requires higher temperature
for subsequent degradation. The figure further showed that the
3.9.1. Thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA)
degradation of final residue occurs after 700 °C [188].
TGA is one of the thermal analysis techniques used to measure the
TGA was performed on the treated kenaf fibre composites in three
mass change, thermal decomposition and thermal stability of compo-
stages. The first stage at from 40 to 140 °C was due to the release of
site material [193]. Thermal conductivity of nonwoven sisal fibres are
absorbed moisture in the fibres. In the second stage, the temperature
evaluated by using TGA method and found that it will be a good
range of the decomposition from 190 to 380 °C was related to the
insulating material [194]. From the TGA, it was verified that the
degradation of cellulose substances such as hemicelluloses and cellu-
temperature limit was 200 °C for non treated fibres and 220 °C for
loses. The third stage at from 380 to 400 °C of the decomposition was
sodium hydroxide treated fibres. The dynamic mechanical and thermal
due to the degradation of non-cellulosic materials in the fibres.
properties of oil palm fruit bunch and woven jute fibre reinforced
Fig. 13(a) confirmed that the decomposition temperatures for the
hybrid composites are carried out by Jawaid et al. [195]. The results
composite depended on the weight fraction of kenaf fibre. Generally,
showed that the storage modulus of pure jute fibre composite is greater
most of the cellulose fibre decomposed at a temperature of the range
than that of the hybrid composite and the hybrid composite performed
between 320–380 °C, the thermal stability of the composites materials
better at transition temperature.
increased with fibre content. A sudden drop in the mass of the sample
The TGA results of jute and banana fibres reinforced composites
indicated the thermal degradation of the materials, as illustrated in
were illustrated in Fig. 12 which is reproduced from [188]. The initial
Fig. 13(b). Further, the first stage of weight loss started at range 40–
low temperature weight loss occurs at 190 °C corresponds to removal
60 °C and the second stage started at 90–340 °C [146].
of solvent in polymer matrix. The major weight loss occurs around
370 °C due to degradation and volatization of matrix along with fibres
present in the material. The residue that formed after degradation 3.9.2. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA)
requires higher temperature for subsequent degradation. The degrada- Dynamic mechanical analysis is an indispensable and effective tool
tion of final residue occurs at 650 °C. The TGA result of 50% jute and for determining the morphology and visco-elastic properties of crystal-
50% banana fibre reinforced composite are illustrated that the initial line polymer and composite materials related to primary relaxations

Fig. 13. TGA curves of different treated kenaf fibre composites.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

and other valuable parameters, such as crosslinking density, dynamic fibres on the matrix, which would increase the stress transfer at the
fragility, dynamic/complex viscosity, storage/loss compliance, creep fibre interface. Another factor that could improve the E′ is the
compliance/stress–relaxation modulus and the non-Arrhenius varia- interference of neighboring chains, since greater molecular cooperation
tion of relation times with temperature [196]. DMA is a sensitive is required to allow the relaxation process to occur [199].
technique that is used for studying the effect of temperature on the Tan δ is expressed as a dimensionless number and regarded as the
mechanical properties of materials including polymers and composites. mechanical damping factor defined as the ratio of loss and storage
It is a technique that characterizes the mechanical responses of a modulus (tan δ=E″/E′) shown in Fig. 15(a). The relationship between
material by monitoring dynamic property changes over a range of loss, storage modulus and tan δ in the DMA graph versus temperature
temperatures at a fixed frequency or over a range of frequencies at a are shown in Fig. 15(b). The resultant component obtained from the
fixed temperature. DMA is mainly used to evaluate the interfacial plot are called as shear modulus, which is denoted by (E*). A high tan δ
interactions in composite material [197]. The storage modulus assesses value is indicative of a material having high, non-elastic strain
the load bearing capacity of a composite material. Since the fibre- component while a low value indicates high elasticity. Increase in the
reinforced material undergoes various types of dynamic stressing fibre/matrix interface bonding results reduction in damping factor
during service, studies of visco-elastic behavior of these materials are since mobility of the molecular chains at the fibre/matrix interface
of great importance. Visco-elastic properties such as storage modulus decreases. Thus, lower the energy loss in relation to its storage capacity
(E′), loss modulus (E″) and damping parameter (tan δ) as a function of greater the tan δ value in the system. The damping factor is related to
temperature were measured using a dynamic mechanical analyzer (TA molecular movements, visco-elasticity besides the certain defects that
Instruments DMA Q800). Samples of dimensions 25×10×3 mm were contribute towards damping such as dislocations, grain boundaries,
mounted on the dual cantilever clamp. The testing was done at phase boundaries and various interfaces [196].
temperatures from 25 to 350 °C range using a heating rate of 5 °C/
min at a frequency of 10 Hz and amplitude of 50 µm.
Thomas et al. [198] conducted DMA of banana fibre reinforced 3.9.3. Heat deflection temperature (HDT)
composites with the effect of fibre loading, frequency and temperature. HDT is defined as the temperature at which a standard test bar
The loss modulus and damping peaks were found to be lowered by the (5×1/2×1/4 in.) deflects 0.010 in. under a stated load of either 66 or
incorporation of banana fibres and the height of the damping peaks 264 psi. The HDT or softening point of polymer-based materials is an
depended on the fibre content. Apparent activation energy of the important factor for designing industrial products. HDT test specimens
relaxation process of the composites was also analyzed. The value was were prepared in accordance with ASTM D646 to determine the
found to be maximum for composites with 40% fibre content. It is temperature at which the material deflects by a specified amount under
interesting to note that there is better fibre/matrix bonding in the action of a specified stress [200]. HDT analysis was conducted
composites with 40% fibre loading. Fibre/matrix de-bonding is evident using the dynamic mechanical analyzer according to DIN EN ISO 75
in composites with 10% and 20% fibre loading, composites with 40% method to determine the temperature at which the sample deforms.
fibre loading show no gap between the fibre and the matrix because of The samples of size 80×10×4 mm were analyzed using a three point
the stronger bonding. When the fibre concentration is lower, the bending mode at a loading of 1.8 MPa and with heating rate of 5 °C/
packing of the fibres will not be efficient in the composite. When there min. HDT was measured at a fixed deflection of 2 mm [197]. The HDT
is closer packing of the fibres crack propagation will be prevented by test also referred to as the heat distortion temperature test. The load is
the neighboring fibres. DMA of banana fibre composites are greatly applied to a desired value (66 or 264 psi fibre stress). The temperature
dependent on the volume fraction of the fibre. The loss modulus peak at which the bar has deflected 0.010 in. is recorded as the HDT at the
gets broadened emphasizing the improved fibre/matrix adhesion. The specified fibre stress [188]. The HDT value is attributable to the
glass transition temperature is shifted positively on the addition of improved interfacial adhesion and higher crystallinity of the bio-
fibre. Fig. 14 shows the E′ curves for the PFRCs. From the figure, an composites, accordingly this must be considered in deciding on
enhancement in E′ with fibre content was observed over the entire ultimate applications for this type of composites [200]. Fig. 16 shows
temperature range for all glass/ramie fibre fractions illustrated. This HDT values obtained for the curaua composites with PP resin for
enhancement is due to the higher restriction imposed by the former different weight fractions of fibres. Only 20% curaua fibre obtained a
rise in HDT, increasing from 75.3 °C (PP) to 97 °C. This result is

Fig. 14. Storage modulus (E′) curves for the composites (a) 0:100 and (b) 75:25.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 15. (a) Relationship between E', E'' and tan (δ); and (b) Relationship between E′, E′′ and tan (δ) vs. temperature in the DMA.

Fig. 16. Heat deflection temperature of the curaua fibre composites.

important, since it demonstrates that the use of curaua fibre improves

the thermal stability of the composite, meaning it can be used in Fig. 18. IR spectrum of jute fibres (a) untreated; (b) succinylated; and (c) phthalicy-
applications with higher temperatures [201]. lated.

lignin have been solved into the NaOH solution [202].

3.10. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis Fig. 18 shows the infrared spectrum of the untreated, succinylated
and phthalicylated jute fibres. Fig. 18(a) indicated that the presence of
The FTIR equipment NICOLET 6700 was used to obtain the the OH group in the jute fibre whereas this band was not found in the
structural analysis of the composite specimen. The results showed that Fig. 18(b) which shows the infrared spectrum of the succinylated jute
useful composites with good strength could be successfully developed fibres. In the case of phthalicylation the peak was narrowed down
using agave fibre reinforced composites. Tensile strength and modulus, which represents that some amount of OH group were utilized for
compression strength and modulus were significantly high due to alkali phthalicylation. The presence of the strong peak in the 1746 cm−1 in
treatment of the fibres [118]. FTIR analysis of banana and abaca fibres the IR spectrum of the untreated fibre indicates the presence of waxy
is very similar, with just small differences, attributed to differences in impurities which was also confirmed with the morphology of the same.
lignin content in these fibres. Alkali–treated fibres show a more intense In case of succinylated and phthalicylated jute fibre the intensity of the
peak at 1500 cm−1 which is presented in Fig. 17, practically nonexis- peak was less which indicates the reduction in the amount of ester
tent in virgin fibre, corresponding to carboxylate salts, which may impurities. By maintaining proper concentration impurities can be
indicate the formation of R–C=O–ONa groups on the surface of the greatly minimized. Still some peak in those range were available in the
fibres, by substituting COOH groups by COONa, reducing that way the phthalicylated jute fibre spectrum which indicates the presence of
hydrophilic character of the fibre; furthermore, the inflexion at excess anhydride which can be removed by continuous washing [45].
1700 cm−1 disappears for treated fibre, suggesting that waxes and
3.11. Creep modeling

According to Betten [203], the primary or transient creep is

characterized by a monotonic decrease in the rate of creep and creep
strain which can be described by the following equation.
εc = aσ nt b (6)
where a, n and b are constants dependent on the temperature. ε is the
creep strain and σ is the applied stress. Eq. (6) was applied to the
experimental creep data at room temperature. The representative
experimental curves of creep strain and creep compliance vs. creep
time of the different weight fractions of kenaf fibre based composites,
tested at two different temperatures 30 °C and 50 °C, are presented in
Fig. 19. The creep strain and creep compliance were often larger at
Fig. 17. FTIR spectra for banana, abaca and NaOH treated abaca fibres. higher test temperature. It is well documented that this visco-elastic

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 19. (a) Creep strains and (b) creep compliances of kenaf fibre composites at different temperatures.

response depends on the material structure, which is strongly depen- different viewing angles. Differences in the linear attenuation coeffi-
dent on the testing temperature. Furthermore, the instantaneous cient among the fibres are responsible for X-ray image contrast, which
deformation as well as the total deformation exhibited almost an enables the creation of two-dimensional images of the internal
exponential variation with the temperature [146]. structure of the object. The reconstructed consecutive slices provide
3D volume visualization with high resolution, thereby enabling mor-
3.12. Morphological properties phological measurements of microstructure parameters such as poros-
ity, effective area or fibre diameter in a thermoplastic composite [209].
3.12.1. Surface structure A Skyscan 1174 X-ray microtomograph was used for microtomo-
Test specimens were subjected to the study of macro-structure and graphic acquisitions. The instrument is a high-resolution X-ray tomo-
pictures of surface structure were taken (Fig. 20), where the test graph scanner with a closed X-ray micro-focus source for non-
specimens consist of 68% of natural fibres, 20% of bi-component fibres destructive 3D microscopy. The maximum peak voltage of the
and 12% of shives [86]. Skyscan 1174 X-ray source is 50 kV with a maximum power of 40 W;
it has a tungsten reflection target and a focal spot of 5 µm. The
detection system consists of a 14-bit cooled CCD camera coupled to a
3.12.2. X-ray computed micro-tomography
scintillator by lenses with 1:6 zoom ranges. Multiple 2D X-ray
The amount and the quality of the information obtained, the
projections are stored while the sample is rotated [210]. The investi-
capability to examine the structures internally and the high level of
gated fibre materials were placed in a small polymethyl methacrylate
detail make X-ray computed micro-tomography (CT) preferable.
(PMMA) container with an inner diameter of 10 mm. This sample
However, the relatively easy implementation and the high reproduci-
holder was placed between the X-ray source and detector. To obtain
bility are strengths of the 2D scanning technique. To obtain knowledge
high-resolution images using X-ray CT, the magnification of the system
regarding the detection of fibre entities and to continue to improve the
was set so that the container remained within the field of view of the
lignocellulosic fibre decortication process, it is necessary to qualita-
detector for the full rotation cycle. Projection images were taken every
tively predict the final performance and variation in fibre size distribu-
0.4° rotation step over 360°. The 3D volume-rendered images of the
tions resulting from the morphological variations of the fibres.
three batches of lignocellulosic fibres analyzed are depicted in
Concerning materials, X-ray CT is frequently used as a non-destructive
Fig. 21(a) for flax, Fig. 21(b) for hemp and Fig. 21(c) for miscanthus
technique, whereas 2D scanning is frequently considered a destructive
fibre elements, respectively [210].
technique because it is commonly used for elements extracted from a
matrix. Both 3D and 2D imaging techniques provide useful morpho-
logical descriptions of lignocellulosic materials [204–207], particularly 3.12.3. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis
annual plant material [208]. The principle of absorption of X-ray CT The surface characteristics of the PFRCs used for the various testing
consists of reconstructing the attenuation coefficient from the attenua- is analyzed through SEM analysis. The surface of the fibre was observed
tion measurements of an X-ray beam passing through the sample at using ZEISS optical microscope equipped with a Moticam 2500 camera

Fig. 20. Surface structure of (a) jute; (b) flax and (c) hemp.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 21. 3D reconstructed volume visualization obtained by X-ray tomography of (a) flax fibres; (b) hemp fibres and (c) miscanthus fibres.

digitally controlled by image processing program. The surface of the on the surface of a fibre was also observed due to the existence of the
sisal fibre and its crosssection were also examined using a JSM-5600 amorphous region. The other causes of fibre pilling are friction on the
microscope. The fibres were coated with a fine layer of gold to make it surface as a result of treatment. Fibre pilling is prevented to a greater
conductive. The results obtained can be used to predict from a fatigue extent by the process of bio-bleaching. There was a drastic improve-
and structural integrity point of view the behavior of sisal based ment in the morphology of the cotton fibre in terms of smoothness,
reinforced composites with high load bearing capability, and extend during the cellulase treatment. The treatment resulted in the develop-
the design envelope of PFRCs [161]. Brunner [211] conducted a ment of a remarkable even surface. The creation of smoothened surface
research on fracture mechanics which has yielded a number of different is possibly due to the accumulation of the enzyme in the fibre matrix
test set-ups for determining the critical fracture toughness of fibre and subsequent removal of the micro fibrils of the cotton fibre [110].
reinforced polymer matrix composites under tensile/opening, in-plane After 4 h of treatment with cellulase, the cotton fibres were observed to
shear, and anti-plane shear/torsion loads, as well as for mixed mode develop smoothened surface (Fig. 23d). On further subjecting to
loads. Test procedures for critical fracture toughness testing of cellulase treatment, the cotton fibres were observed to remain with
composites are being evaluated for international standardization. smoothened surfaces, but they tend to get thoroughly distorted due to
Fracture mechanics testing aims at determining those properties of excessive hydrolysis (Fig. 23e). Bio-bleaching using cellulase was
materials and structures or structural parts needed to quantitatively successful mainly in the removal of the surface fibrils and small
predict failure loads or remaining lifetime based on fracture mechanics protruding fibres. Surfaces become more regular and form a more
analysis. continuous cover of the fibre surface [214]. Smooth regions were
Mondragon et al. [126] investigated the effect of fibre treatments observed where small fibrils and platelet-like structures protrude from
and matrix modification on mechanical properties of flax fibre compo- the surface. On further subjecting to treatment, large localized deposits
sites. Treatments using chemicals such as maleic anhydride, vinyltri- are found, exhibiting cracks (Fig. 23f), these cracks can be expected to
methoxysilane, maleic anhydride polypropylene copolymer and alkali- be formed due to shrinking during drying of the treated fibres. From
zation were carried out in order to modify the interfacial bonding these SEM images, one can expect the cellulase fibre interactions to be
between fibre and matrix. Fracture surfaces were investigated by SEM. governed largely by mechanical interlocking and Van der Waals forces
The objective of this investigation is to compare the effects of similar [215]. Endoglucanase acts on the amorphous region of the cellulose,
modifications in both fibres and matrix on the mechanical properties of forming the protruding hairs and loosens it. The mechanical action of
flax fibre composites and also to compare them with those for a glass stirring during the treatment in turn removes the loosened fibres to
fibre composite. When comparing specific properties, flax fibre com- give a final finished product [216]. Hence the cotton fibres treated with
posites exhibited similar or even superior mechanical properties. The cellulase were found to exhibit uniform surface features that aided in
fractured surfaces of the sisal fibres are presented in Fig. 22(a, b) [161]. the proper dyeing of the same with Myrobalan dye.
Fig. 22(c–f) showed the SEM images of the sisal fibres which The tensile fractured surfaces of the banana fibre reinforced
impregnated in polymer composites after being brittle fractured with composites are presented in Fig. 24. The interlocking between the
the aid of liquid nitrogen. It can clearly be seen that there was no resin fibre and matrix is very strong and the fibre fracture occurs by the
penetrating into the lumens of sisal fibres (Fig. 22c), and some lumens tensile force is visible. Fig. 24(b) is the magnified view of a banana fibre
were filled with resin (Fig. 22d). However, resin was observed both in from the tensile fracture surface of banana fibre composites. It shows
the mechanical fibre lumens (Fig. 22e) and vascular tissues (Fig. 22f) the interface failure, which results in loss of surface smoothness and
[212]. defibrillation of the fibre. Amount of resin adhering to the banana fibre
The SEM images of untreated and treated cotton fibres are is higher compared to that in glass fibre [125]. It can be seen that in the
presented in Fig. 23 which is reproduced from [213]. The morphology unmodified composites (Fig. 24c), the tensile rupture is accompanied
of the cotton fibre is shown in Fig. 23a. The SEM images of fibres by the de-bonding of the fibres leaving holes, which indicated a weak
treated with sodium hypochlorite was seen to develop a twined adhesion between the fibre and the matrix. But for NaOH treated and
morphology and shallow piths on the surface (Fig. 23b, c). The creation benzoylated composites (Fig. 24d and e), a significant improvement in
of this surface is probably due to the treatment of fibres with sodium the fibre/matrix adhesion is observed as shown by the absence of holes
hypochlorite bleach. The sodium hypochlorite was observed to lower and debonding of the fibres. The fracture surface of the KMnO4 treated
the fibre crystallinity. The fibres were observed to lose weight as well as fibre composites show fibre breakage rather than pullout, which in turn
severe damage was observed in the morphology of the cotton fibres. A indicates better interfacial strength (Fig. 24f) [217].
linear reduction in weight change was observed, possibly due to the The SEM images of untested, tension and bending tested spicule
enzymatic digestion of the fibre surface by the hydrolysis of the fibre fibre is presented in Fig. 25. The structure of the fibre was judged to be
walls resulting in the formation of cavities. Fibre pilling, a very due to the presence of a large variety of surface defects, even in what
common imperfection caused by the formation of small, fuzzy balls were originally thought to be smooth sections of the spicule fibres, and

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 22. SEM images of the (a, b) fracture surfaces of the sisal fibres, (c-f) cross-sections of sisal fibres in polymer composites.

Fig. 23. SEM micrographs of cotton fibres (a) Untreated (b) treated with sodium hypochlorite bleach for 10 h (c) treated with sodium hypochlorite bleach for 12 h (d) treated with
Cellulase for 4 h (e) treated with Cellulase for 8 h (f) treated with Cellulase for 12 h.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

Fig. 24. Tensile fractured surfaces of the banana fibre composites: (a, b, c) untreated; (d) NaOH treated; (e) benzoylated; and (f) KMnO4 treated.

those defects can be seen in the microscopy image (Fig. 25a). It was of the main sectors taking the societal, environmental, and govern-
apparent that the failures of the spicule fibres that were observed in mental needs and responsibilities into considerations. Research and
tension (Fig. 25b) were very different from the failures that were development in the field of automobile engineering are enhanced using
observed in bending. Fig. 25c is a SEM image of a typical failed surface plant fibres as reinforcing materials in its products [222–226]. The
of a spicule specimen tested in bending [218]. suitability of the PFRCs for automotive sectors was investigated by
several researchers, where several characteristics and properties of
4. Industrial applications of PFRCs different natural fibre/polymers were investigated. Furthermore, other
studies were carried out to address the importance of developing the
It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the important role of sustainability of automotive sectors utilizing deployment of useful
PFRCs in advanced materials technology. Due to the severe environ- concepts, alternatives and procedures such as: eco-design for industrial
mental issues, many PFRCs are used today at the leading edge of applications throughout parametric studies, LCA procedures, environ-
materials technology, enabling their use in advanced applications such mental management and operational performance, introducing light
as internal parts of automotive and building structures. Plant fibres weight concepts, conducting comparisons and addressing the high
have already established a reputation as filler materials in industrial quality characteristics of material alternatives, implementing decision
applications [198,219]. Biomaterials play a significant role in regen- making tools for vehicle developments, strategic planning concepts,
erative medicine as implants, sutures, contact lenses, hip joints, designing for remanufacturing processes and others [95,222–224,226–
vascular grafts, wound dressing materials, drug releasing stents and 230]. Such advantages include recyclability, good thermal and acous-
several other biomedical devices [220,221]. Automotive industry is one tical insulation properties, bio-degradability, low cost, availability,

Fig. 25. SEM image of (a) untested spicule fibre showing surface defects; (b) failed surfaces of a dry spicule fibre tested in tension; (c) failed surface of a dry spicule sample in bending.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

energy recovery, CO2 sequestration enhanced, reduced tool wear in From the review we also observed that the mechanical properties of
machining operations, and reduced dermal and respiratory irritation PFRCs are dependent upon the stability of the interfacial region. Thus,
[69,95,222,228,231,232]. the characterization of the interface is of great importance. Alkali
Jute, flax, hemp and coir are good reinforcement in polymer treatment increased the impurities of fibre surface and increased the
matrices and are used in automotive applications, construction and interfacial adhesion between fibre and matrix, and also decreased the
packaging industries [73,87,233]. The use of plant fibres, such as flax, fibre pullout which enhanced the properties. Different parameters
sisal, kenaf to reinforce body panels for automotive applications is affected the mechanical properties of PFRCs, namely curing process,
being introduced for interior parts such as door and window panels, hat catalyst and modifying chemical concentrations, fibre weight fraction,
shelves, and roofing. While the long bast fibres have been used to make fibre length and fibre treatment. The real challenge for the researcher is
paper almost for 2 millennia, the short, bulky fibres found in the inner to improve the thermal stability of these fibres so that they can be used
part of the plant can also be used to make cheaper grades of paper, with engineering polymers and further the advantage of both the
apparently without greatly affecting quality of the printing surface polymers and the fibres. Thus improved thermal stability of plant fibres
[234]. Moreover, as a renewable product, plant fibres have a greater and modification of fibres for better performance are still an indis-
environmental interest than oil-based polymers. Recently, plant fibres pensable task for the researchers. Such attempts can widen the
have also been used in exterior composite components: the engine and applications of PFRCs. DMA and thermal stability of PFRCs were
transmission covers of a Mercedes-Benz Travego. The auto industry considerably dependent on fibre weight fraction. The loss modulus
has used banana fibres for body parts, for instance the under floor peak got broadened emphasizing the improved fibre/matrix adhesion.
protection trim of Mercedes A class has been made from banana fibre Furthermore, thermal behavior of the PFRCs was comparable with the
reinforced composite [235]. In recent years, there has been an synthetic fibre composites. Morphological properties showed that the
increasing interest in proving the plant's suitability for use in building interaction between the fibres and matrix was poor such that fibre
materials particle boards of various densities, thicknesses, with fire and debonding, fibre pull-out, matrix fracture and fibres fracture occurred.
insect resistance, adsorbents, textiles, livestock feed, and fibres in new
and recycled plastics [236]. The use of PFRCs is not limited only to the
automotive industry. Window and door profile manufacturers from 6. Future trends of PFRCs
another large industrial segment uses wood fibre reinforced composites
[237]. It is necessary to improve the strength and stiffness of these In the future, these composites will see increased use in structural
composites, as well as confront issues such as water absorption and applications. Various other applications depend on their further improve-
thermal instability before they can be used to their full extent in ments. But there are still a number of problems that have to be solved
industry. Some of the potential applications of the PFRCs in various before PFRCs become fully competitive with synthetic fibre composites.
fields are summarized in Table 4 [238–240]. PFRCs are sustainable and could be fully recyclable, but could be more
expensive if fully bio-based and biodegradable and they are extremely
sensitive to moisture and temperature. If a proper matrix is used, PFRCs
5. Summary could be 100% biodegradable, but their biodegradation can difficult to
control. These composites exhibit good specific properties, but there is
PFRCs with an outstanding combination of properties are not a dream high variability in their properties. PFRCs showed non-linear mechanical
today. Use of proper processing techniques, fibre treatments, and behavior, poor long term performance and low impact strength. Many of
compatibilizers/coupling agents can lead to composites with optimum these weaknesses can and will be overcome with the development of more
properties for a particular application. Recently, there has been increasing advanced processing of plant fibres and their composites. However fully
interest in commercialization of PFRCs and their use, especially for environmental superiority of these composites compared to synthetic fibre
interior paneling in the automobile industry. From the review we observed composites is still questionable because of their relatively excessive
that, the tensile, flexural and impact properties are the most commonly processing requirements, which in turn consume more energy.
investigated mechanical properties of PFRCs. Besides these tensile, Therefore, careful LCA of bio-composites is essential in order to retain
flexural and impact properties, fatigue, moisture absorption, wear proper- the main advantage in the process of developing high performance
ties are also investigated by many researchers. The thermal properties PFRCs. New markets will develop when these composite products are
such as TGA, HDT, DMA and creep behavior are also investigated for more durable, dimensionally stable, moisture and fire resistant. Further
PFRCs. The tensile, flexural and impact properties of PFRCs were found studies are required in order to evaluate the effects of fibre pre-treatment
to be dependent on the fibre length and fibre weight fraction. To improve methods and alternative curing methods on the long-term performance of
performance to the desired level, still much work is to be done considering PFRCs.
fibre processing, non-linear behavior, fibre/matrix adhesion, fibre disper- Nanotechnology shows numerous opportunities for improving bio-
sion into matrix, composite manufacturing with optimized processing composite products by providing nanotechnology based coatings to
parameters. Fibre weight fraction and temperature surrounding played a increase water uptake, reduce biodegradation and volatile organic
role in the rate of moisture uptake and overall uptake at saturated points compounds and even flame resistance. The use of nanocrystallinecel-
of the composites. lulose is being explored for a variety of uses since it is stronger than

Table 4
Potential applications of PFRCs.

Application Examples

Automobile, transportation and aviation Door panels, seat backs, headliners, dash boards, car door, pallets, trunk liners, decking, parcel shelves, spare tyre covers,
industry spare-wheel pan, automobile and railway coach interior, boats, Interior paneling, architectural moldings
Building and construction industry Railing, bridge, roof tiles, panels for partition and false ceiling, partition boards, wall, floor, window and door frames, mobile
structures which can withstand the natural calamities.
Household and utility products Tables, chairs, fencing elements, door panels, interior paneling, door-frame profiles, food trays, partitions, lampshades,
suitcases, helmets, paperweights, helmets, shower, bath units, covers, pipes, ropes, bags, hessians, sacking, mats and carpet
Electronics appliances Mobile cases, laptops cases
Sports & leisure goods Tennis racket, ball, bicycle, frames, snowboards
Storage devices Storage silos, post-boxes, fuel containers, bio-gas containers etc.

M. Ramesh et al. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 79 (2017) 558–584

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