Get your FREE Inside Composite membership

Sign me up!

26th February 2018, Portsmouth

Potential in date palm fibres

Dr Hom Nath Dhakal. © University of PortsmouthA team from the University of Portsmouth’s School of Engineering is developing lightweight materials from agriculture biomass including flax, hemp, jute and waste biomass date palm fibres which have the potential to provide farmers with extra income and reduce C02 emissions from the burning of waste.

Dr Hom Nath Dhakal, who leads the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (AMM) Research Group at the university, said: “We are working to address the key challenges of using natural reinforced composites for structural and semi-structural applications such as internal engine covers, seat backs and roof structures, among others.

“The impact of this work could be extremely significant because these lightweight alternatives could help reduce the weight of vehicles, contributing to less fuel consumption and fewer C02 emissions. The sustainable materials can be produced using less energy than glass and carbon fibres and are biodegradable and therefore easier to recycle.”

Dr Dhakal and his team have been working closely with industry to address these problems and test the strength and viability of parts made from the sustainable materials. These test results are compared to those of hybrids of the natural materials with more traditional glass and carbon fibres. The AMM Research Group has been working in collaboration with researchers from various institutions from around the world.

A recent collaborative study has explored the potential of waste leaf sheath date palm fibres for composite reinforcement.

Date palm is cultivated extensively in North Africa and the Middle East and the accumulated bio-waste of plant fibres is in the order of millions of tons per annum.  While there are a number of traditional uses for this bio-waste including ropes and baskets, a large amount of the residue is burnt or land-filled.

The study looked at the structure, physio-chemical and mechanical properties of date palm fibres to assess whether they had the potential as reinforcements for composite materials. It found they could be cost-effective and environmentally-friendly reinforcements for better impact resistance and improved damping properties. This investigation looked at the relationships of property structures. It showed that components such as door linings, front and rear car bumpers and parcel shelves could be manufactured using these reinforcements.

One of the issues with materials created from natural fibres is their lower strength compared to carbon and glass fibre composites, since they are susceptible to increased moisture absorption. A study published in Composites Science and Technology tested the effect of water absorption on the mechanical properties of a composite of flax and basalt fibres. The study revealed that this hybrid of natural and basalt fibres had high mechanical strength.

“The way forward for natural fibre composites to be used in structural applications would be a combination of both natural and synthetic fibres with a hybrid approach,” Dr Dhakal said. “Meeting these challenges requires further research and innovation between academic institutions and industry.”

This article is also appears in...


Be the first to comment on Potential in date palm fibres


Back to Top