Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor/Chair:

Thomas Fronk

Abstract

Natural fibers show potential to replace glass fibers in thermoset and thermoplastic composites. Kenaf is a bast-type fiber with high specific strength and great potential to compete with glass fibers.

In this research kenaf/epoxy composites were analyzed using Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA). A three-point bend apparatus was used in the DMA testing. The samples were tested at 1 hertz, at a displacement of 10 μm, and at room temperature.

The fiber volume content of the kenaf was varied from 20%-40% in 5% increments. Ten samples of each fiber volume fraction were manufactured and tested. The flexural storage modulus, the flexural loss modulus, and the loss factor were reported. Generally as the fiber volume fraction of kenaf increased, the flexural storage and flexural loss modulus increased. The loss factor remained relatively constant with increasing fiber volume fraction.

Woven and chopped fiberglass/epoxy composites were manufactured and tested to be compared with the kanaf/epoxy composites were manufactured and tested to be compared with the kenaf/epoxy composites. Both of the fiberglass/epoxy composites reported higher flexural storage and flexural loss modulus values. The kenaf/epoxy composites reported higher loss factor values. The specific flexural storage and specific flexural loss modulus were calculated for both the fiberglass and kenaf fiber composites. Even though the kenaf composites reported a lower density, the fiberglass composites reported higher specific mechanical properties.

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