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The Effect of Heat Treatment on the Structure and Properties of Hemp/PLA Composites

This project focuses on bio-derived composites made from poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and hemp as well as the influence of PLA crystallinity on material properties. It is known that crystallinity can occur as spherulites within a polymer matrix bulk and as transcrystallinity on fibre surfaces in thermoplastic matrix composites. In addition, thermal history is known to influence the degree of crystallinity of polymer materials. The aim of this project was to study the effect of heat treatment or annealing on crystallinity and the influence of this on properties of hemp/PLA composites. Composites were observed to become more opaque during heat treatment and increased crystallinity after heat treatment was seen using optical microscopy. XRD and DSC results showed that crystallinity was much higher for composites than PLA, supporting the fibre acting as a nucleating agent. There was no apparent change to tensile strength with increased heat treatment for PLA, however, for composite samples, increased heat treatment led to a small reduction in average tensile strength. Although there was no discernable trend for change of fracture toughness with increased crystallinity for PLA, it decreased for composite materials. It appears that the increased crystallinity present in the composite in combination with increased stress concentration due to the presence of fibres is reducing composite toughness as well as leading to premature failure in tensile tests due to PLA brittleness explaining lower strengths for composites. DMTA suggests that increase in crystallinity contributes to thermal stability of the composite.
Type of thesis
Jayaraman, J. (2010). The Effect of Heat Treatment on the Structure and Properties of Hemp/PLA Composites (Thesis, Master of Engineering (ME)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5000
The University of Waikato
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