Development and characterization of hybrid coconut/glass fibers reinforced low density polyethylene composites for bumper application
The EU's End of Life Vehicles (ELV) regulations are forcing car manufacturers to consider the environmental impact of their production and possibly shift from the use of synthetic materials to the use of agro-based materials. However, poor mechanical properties and certain manufacturing limitations currently limit the use of agro-based materials to non-structural and semi-structural automotive components. This research is focused on a composite of hybrid coconut/glass fiber as reinforcement in recycled low density polyethylene matrix alone to enhance the desired mechanical properties for car bumper as automotive structural components. X-ray fluorescence analysis conducted on coconut fiber showed the presence of silica and alumina materials make coconut fibre a choice one. Morphology analysis was performed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which reveals that there are small discontinuities and reasonably uniform distribution of the reinforcement fibers and the reinforced low density polyethylene (RLDPE) binder resulting to better mechanical properties. Physic-chemical properties that directly affect developed composite such as variation of Density, Water Absorption, Tensile Strength, Bending strength, Modulus of rupture, Impact Strength and Hardness Values were investigated for both unhybridized and hybridized developed composite. The study shows the successful development of composites of coconut fiber (CF) hybridized with glass fiber (GF) and reinforced low density polyethylene (RLDPE) binder using a simple molding technique. Hybridized samples (CF-GF/RLDPE) showed higher strength when compared to un-hybridized (CF/RLDPE) composites. Better microstructural bonding exists with 25% and 30% wt CF-GF composite resulting in good mechanical properties for the hybridized composites. The grades of composites obtained in the course of this study are applicable in the production of low strength car bumpers.
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