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INVESTIGATION OF MECHANICAL PROPERTIES OF RICE

STRAW FIBER EPOXY COMPOSITE

ABSTRACT
Now-a-days, the natural fibres from renewable natural resources offer the potential to act as a
reinforcing material for polymer composites alternative to the use of glass, carbon and other man-made
fibres. Among various fibres, rice straw is most widely used natural fibre due to its advantages like easy
availability, low density, low production cost and satisfactory mechanical properties. For a composite
material, its mechanical behaviour depends on many factors such as fibre content, orientation, types,
length etc. Attempts have been made in this research work to study the effect of fibre loading and
orientation on the physical and mechanical behaviour of rice straw reinforced epoxy based composites.

Composites of various compositions with different fibre orientations (0 and 30) are fabricated
using simple hand lay-up technique. It has been observed that there is a significant effect of fibre loading
and orientation on the performance of rice straw reinforced epoxy based composites. The developed
composites undergo different kinds of tests. The result shows composites having good strength and
stiffness compared to natural composites.

Keywords: Rice straw, Epoxy Resin, Mechanical Properties, Orientation.

INTRODUCTION

Increasing the industrial products and expanding the manufacturing fields came along with the
establishment of many environmental restrictions. This initiates a need for a kind of materials that
satisfy the industrial requirements, such as high stiffness, high strength, low thermal expansion
coefficient, low cost and do not violate the environmental restriction. A combination of many properties
is often required and is hard to be achieved by conventional materials. In the current work, the used
matrix is epoxy that is categorized as a thermoset polymer; this type of polymer is cross-linked material
with high hardness and stiffness properties. It does not soften and cannot be reshaped after cure. Epoxy
is the most common thermosetting polymer that is widely used as a resin for natural fibres.

Rice comes in the second rank in the worlds largest cereal crop. During the last 10 years global
rice production is increased at rate 16.48 million tonnes per year. Rice residuals are mainly rice husk and
rice straw. It was found that largest amount of residuals are produced by rice as a result of this
continuous increase in the rice production rate.

Rice straw is the second rice byproduct, the average ratio between rise grains: rise straw: rice
husk is 1:1.25:0.25. This justifies the reason for selecting straw rather than husk in the current work, as it
is found with huge amounts much more than that of rice husk. Making use of it will have a larger
impact.

Rice Straw is produced by 750 million tons annually; it is composed of leaves and stem, the stem
has tubular and hollow structure. Rice straw has attractive properties such as low density. It has a
reactive surface and it is available with low price, which allow it to be involved in many applications.

EXTRACTION AND PREPARATION OF STRAW FIBRE

The rice straw, which is widely cultivated and recognized as high yielding variety, was used for
the study. Each straw stalk is built of sections of stem joined at nodes, which are hard bulbous areas
where leaves are attached to the stem. After removing leaves the stem were cut at nodes. Straw fibres are
identified in the form of a cylindrical pipe of negligible wall thickness and appear in light yellow colour.
The dry fiber was treated with 5% solution of NaOH for2 hours to remove the unwanted soluble
cellulose, hemi cellulose, pectin, lignin, etc. from the fiber. The fiber to solution weight ratio was
maintained at 1: 25. After 2 hours the fiber was washed thoroughly in distilled water to remove excess of
NaOH and dried at 60C for 24 hours.

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DEVELOPMENT OF COMPOSITE

There are many composite manufacturing techniques available in industry. Compression moulding,
vacuum moulding, pultruding, and resin transfer moulding are few options.

Hand Lay-Up Technique

The hand lay-up manufacturing process is one of the common techniques to combine resin and fabric
components. This process allows manual insertion of fiber reinforcement into a single-sided mould,
where resin is then forced through fiber mats using hand rollers. A primary advantage to the hand lay-up
technique is its ability to fabricate very large, complex parts with reduced manufacturing times.
Additional benefits of hand lay-up process are simple equipment and tooling that are relatively less
expensive than other manufacturing processes. All composite specimens were manufactured using hand
lay-up process.

Fig. Shows Hand Lay-Up technique

The fig. shows typical hand lay-up technique the mould is treated with a release agent to prevent
sticking, the thermosetting resin is mixed with a curing agent or hardener, and applied with brush or
roller on the release agent, put the reinforcement, again resin is applied with brush or roller on the
reinforcement, with the desired layers of reinforcements to get minimum thickness of about 5mm and
that is closed using release film to get good surface finish and to release easily, curing at room
temperature for 24 hour.
Steps for Development of Composite

1. Wash the flat surface/slab (granite slab) carefully with warm water and soft soap to remove any
dust, grease, finger marks, etc.
2. Apply the acetone solution carefully with a piece of sponge or foam rubber, the solution must be
allowed to dry completely.
3. The slab is treated with a release agent to prevent sticking. Epoxy is weighed out and the correct
quantity of 10% hardener for epoxy and stirred in. Brush is the most suitable.
4. The fibre required for the lay-up should have been previously cut to the desired shape and size
by means of templates, paper patterns or by approximate measurements taken.
5. The weight of fabrics is determined, in accordance with the quantity of resin to be used and is
decided in such a way that the final plate is made up of 60% resin and 40% reinforcement by
weight.
6. The first resin coat is applied on the release film as per the size of the fabric with the help of
brush.
7. The first layer of fibre straw is placed over the resin coat in and Care must be taken to ensure an
even coverage of resin, free from air bubbles.
8. Immediately after the first layer of fabric has been applied a compression roller is used to
compress the fibre and squeeze air bubbles and excess resin from the laminate. This technique
appreciably improves the strength of the moulding by increasing its density and reducing its
porosity on the inside surface, so it is important that the roller are used firmly and evenly across
the entire surface.
9. Successive layers of laminate are now applied to the mould until the lay-up is complete. Each
layer is compression rolled as described above. The number of layers required will depend on the
type of moulding and the structural stresses it will need to withstand in use.
10. After the final resin coat is applied, the lay- up is covered by another release film. The mould is
closed by placing the weight/ top slab.
11. The top slab on account of its weight which is more than15 kg compresses the lay-up to the
desired thickness of up to 5mm, which is maintained using appropriate stoppers and the lay- up,
is allowed to cure for few hours (say 6-7 days) before it is retrieved from the mould.

Fabrication procedure of composites is shown in figures which gives us the clear picture of the
procedure.
Materials used for the project

Measurements according to ASTM standards Mixing Of Resign And Hardner


Application of resign on to the release film rice straw fibre arrangement
Placement of straws in 30 degree orientation arranging fibres in zero degree orientation

Packing with Rice straw husk

Fabricated composites
The table gives description of composite models made with different orientation and their composition.
Three models of three layers are fabricated with two different orientations. The three different layers are
0, 30.The models are fabricated by placing the rice straw fibres into the required orientation (0, 30) .