NC State
BioResources
Barton-Pudlik, J., and Czaja, K. (2016). "Conifer needles as thermoplastic composite fillers: Structure and properties," BioRes. 11(3), 6211-6231.

Abstract

This study describes the properties of thermoplastic polymer composites based on polyethylene (of low and high density) and ethylene-propylene copolymers using various types of conifer needles (pine, spruce, fir, and cedar) as fillers. For the needles, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and TGA/Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (TGA/FTIR) were performed to investigate their structures and thermal resistance, as required for the composite processing methods. Moreover, structural differences were studied for the analyzed fillers and composite materials (FTIR). The results were compared with the values obtained for composites with conifer wood flour. Composites with conifer needles (pine) had increased water absorption and similar strength properties. However, irrespective of the degree of filling, composites with pine needles were positively characterized by the highest melt mass flow rate (MFR) values and showed a slightly better impact resistance than composites filled with other flours. Thus, shredded coniferous needles with sufficient thermal resistance could be successfully used as fillers in composites. This conclusion was based on thermoplastic polymers as an alternative and/or supplement to the wood flour used in the manufacture of wood-polymer composites.


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