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Polymer International Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001)

The effect of various anhydride modifications on

mechanical properties and water absorption of
oil palm empty fruit bunches reinforced
polyester composites
HPS Abdul Khalil,1* H Ismail,2 MN Ahmad,3 A Ariffin2 and K Hassan4
Wood, Paper and Coating Division, School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia
Polymer Technology Division, School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia
School of Chemical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia
Palm Oil Research Institute, Malaysia, 50720, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Abstract: The chemical modi®cation of oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) using non-catalysed
reaction with acetic, propionic and succinic anhydrides were investigated. Proof of modi®cation was
indicated by the increase of weight and was con®rmed by Fourier-transform infrared analysis (FT-IR).
The mechanical and water-absorption properties of all anhydride-modi®ed EFB composites were
evaluated at different volume fractions (Vf). The properties were improved for these modi®ed ®bres,
whereas unmodi®ed EFB ®bres exhibited poor mechanical properties and higher water absorption.
Acetic anhydride modi®cation showed the greatest bene®t on composite properties, followed by
propionic and succinic anhydride modi®cation.
# 2001 Society of Chemical Industry

Keywords: anhydride modi®cation; oil palm ®bres; composites; mechanical properties; moisture absorption

INTRODUCTION ®bre±matrix dispersion and wetting of the ®bres occur.

The use of plant ®bres as a replacement for glass in the This incompatibility leads to poor mechanical proper-
reinforcement of composites is currently generating ties and higher water absorption.
much interest in the research community. Plant ®bres Various methods are available to improve the
offer a number of advantages over glass in such compatibility between plant ®bre and the matrix, ie
applications because of low costs,1,2 a very high chemical modi®cation,6,12 grafting of polymers onto
performance/weight ratio,2 light weight,3 easy proces- the ®bres4,13 and the use of compatibilisers14 or treat-
sing,4 reactive surface chemistry5 and the fact that they ments with coupling agents.9,15 A number of studies
may be burned at the end of their product life-cycle.6 have pointed out the effectiveness of chemical treat-
In third-world countries, the overproduction of ments of ®bres and the results show improvement in
certain agricultural commodities has resulted in great the mechanical properties and water absorption.
interest in the production of alternative crops on set- An alternative approach is to alter the cell wall
aside land. Oil palm ®bre by-products such as empty structure and surface chemistry of the ®bres by
fruit bunches (EFB), oil palm trunks, palm press ®bres chemical modi®cation with various anhydrides. The
and oil palm fronds are produced in quantities of the ability of chemical modi®cation to increase the
order of million of tonnes per annum. New applica- resistance of natural ®bres to moisture has been
tions are urgently required for this material. The total widely studied6,15,16 but, although a large number of
crop of fresh fruit bunches is more than 30 millions tests have been carried out, very few of them have
tonnes per annum, which generates more than 8 studied anhydride modi®cation of the ®bre±matrix
millions tonnes of EFB. bonding, which might lead to the improvement of the
The use of plant ®bres as reinforcement in thermo- properties of polyester composites. The purpose of
set matrices requires the creation of compatibility the study reported here was to determine whether the
between the two phases to be associated. This has been effect of various anhydride modi®cations of plant
the subject of a number of reviews.7±11 Since plant ®bres would lead to any improvement in the mech-
®bres are hydrophilic surfaces and thermosets (eg anical properties and water absorption of composites
polyester matrix) are generally hydrophobic, poor so formed.

* Correspondence to: HPS Abdul Khalil, Wood, Paper and Coating Division, School of Industrial Technology, Universiti Sains Malaysia,
11800 Penang, Malaysia
Contract/grant sponsor: Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang
(Received 26 April 2000; revised version received 28 September 2000; accepted 20 October 2000)

# 2001 Society of Chemical Industry. Polym Int 0959±8103/2001/$30.00 395

HPS Abdul Khalil et al

EXPERIMENTAL usually determines the density of plant ®bres. A

Anhydride modification of oil palm fibres modi®cation of an available technique was used (ISO
The oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) mat was 8962, 1987: Plastics-polymer dispersionsÐdetermi-
supplied by JB Plant Fibre Ltd, UK. The chemical nation of density) using a glass pycnometer (Gay-
composition of ®bre types was determined using the Lussac types). The EFB ®bres were ground, and then
same procedure as in the previous study.8 The ®bre sieved to 75 mm size. The pycnometer bottle contain-
mat was extracted in a Soxhlet apparatus with a 4:1:1 ing the powder was ®lled with water, stoppered and
(v/v) mixture of toluene, methanol and acetone for 5 h. shaken slightly to ensure that the water was absorbed.
The extracted oven-dried ®bre was then modi®ed in a Care was taken to ensure the absence of entrained air
3-litre reaction ¯ask. Reaction with acetic, succinic or bubbles. Unfortunately, it was not possible to deter-
propionic anhydride was performed without catalyst at mine the density of the cell wall material of all modi-
100 °C for 1 h; the ®bre mat was then washed by ®ed EFB using the same method, because effective
re¯uxing in acetone for 3 h. The temperature and wetting by water was not always possible because of
reaction time were chosen to achieve adequate weight entrapped air bubbles.
percentage gain (WPG) after modi®cation, as exten-
sively reported in previous studies.12,17 The modi®ed Composite density determination
®bres were then oven-dried at 103  2 °C overnight, The density of EFB-reinforced composites, was
and allowed to cool in a desiccator before preparing determined by using the formula
the composites.
The WPG of the ®bres due to modi®cation was D ˆ m=v…kg m3 † …2†
calculated from eqn (1). Proof of whether modi®cation
where, m is the mass of composites and v is the volume
had taken place depended on the WPG value.
of composite.
WPG …%† ˆ ‰…weight gain/original weight†Š  100 Mass determination was carried out by weighing the
…1† composites to four decimal-places on an analytical
balance (Mettler 5000). For volume determination the
samples were measured using a digital veneer calliper
Fourier-transform infra-red analysis (FT-IR) (Mitutoyo). All samples were oven-dried at 50 °C for
This procedure was employed to characterise the 24 h. After oven drying, the experimental samples were
product of the reaction. The analysis was carried out cooled in a desiccator over granulated silica gel before
on a Perkin Elmer System 2000 FT-IR spectrometer mass and volume determination was conducted.
using a potassium bromide disc method.
Mechanical tests
Formation of composites Tensile tests were performed on an Instron Model
The unsaturated polyester resin, type W-1905, that 4301 instrument, according to BS 2782: Part 10:
was used is a commercial polyester product supplied Method 1003: 1997. For each batch, ten dumb-bell-
by Euro-Pharma Sdn Bhd, Malaysia. The room tem- shaped specimens were cut from a composite sheet
perature cure resin contains 43% of styrene and has using a Beaver NC5 router connected to a Crusader II
been used in ®breglass-reinforced plastic. The for- computer control system. A tungsten spindle was used
mulation used consists of 100 parts of resin by weight to cut the specimens. Flexural tests were performed
for 1.5 parts catalyst (methyl ethyl ketone peroxide). according to BS 2782: Part 3: Method 335A: 1978.
Extracted EFB (without modi®cation) and modi®ed Ten samples of 12  1.5  0.6 cm3 were prepared using
®bre (with acetic, succinic or propionic anhydride) a diamond saw. Tests were conducted on an Instron
mats were used to make laminates of non-woven model 1195. Impact tests used BS 2782: Part 3:
hybrid (random) polyester composites. The formation method 359: 1984. Ten specimens of dimensions
of composites was carried out with the aid of vacuum 6.5  1.5  0.6 cm3 were used for each test. Tests were
as explained in detail in the previous study.18 performed on a Zwick model 5101 impact pendulum
Composites of varying ®bre volume fraction (Vf) of tester. Hardness testing was performed using a Rock-
0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 and 0.5 were prepared. The com- well digital hardness testing instrument (CV DHT)
posites produced were placed in an oven at 40 °C for using a 1/16@ ball indenter and test samples of
18 h to post-cure the board according to speci®cations dimensions 5  5  thickness(mm3) The tests were in
obtained from the supplier. accordance with BS 2782: Part 3. Methods 365C: ISO
2039-2, Determination of Rockwell Hardness. All
Plant fibre density measurement mechanical tests were carried out following condition-
The density of wood is normally speci®ed in the form ing of the samples at 22 °C and at a relative humidity of
of apparent, or bulk, and cell wall density. In plant 65% for 1 week in accordance with BS 2782: Part
®bre materials, such as EFB, it is very dif®cult to 0:1995. Methods of testing, plastics.
determine the bulk density, since the diameters of
®bres are small, contain many voids and have an Scanning electron microscopy
irregular shape. Therefore, the density of the cell wall The fracture surfaces of the composites from tensile

396 Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001)

Oil palm empty fruit bunches reinforced polyester composites

posites with 0.4 Vf only. The samples were cut to a

size of 5  5  0.6 cm3 and immersed in de-ionised
water at ambient temperature. The specimens were
weighed regularly at 1, 5, 10, 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100
days exposure. The percentage of moisture absorption
was calculated using BS 2782: Method 430A: Deter-
mination of water absorption.


Fourier-transform Infra-red analysis (FT-IR) of
anhydride modification
The reaction schemes for esteri®cation (acetic, pro-
pionic and succinic anhydrides) are shown in Fig 1(a
Figure 1. Reaction of oil palm empty fruit bunches fibres with (a) acetic and and b). Proof of anhydride modi®cation of the EFB
propionic (b) succinic anhydrides.
®bres was indicated by the WPG as shown in Table 1.
The evidence for acetylation, propionylation and
succinylation was con®rmed by comparing the FT-IR
test were mounted onto holders using double-sided spectra of the products, with that of unmodi®ed EFB
electrically conducting carbon adhesive tabs. Speci- as shown in Fig 2. Upon modi®cation of EFB with
mens were coated with gold to a thickness of 20 nm anhydrides, two major changes were observed,19 (1)
using Polaron Equipment Ltd model E500 coater at a an increase in the carbonyl (CÐO) stretching region
voltage of 1.2 kV (10 mA) in a vacuum at 25 Pa for (1734±1750 cm 1), and (2) an increase in the carbon±
5 min. The samples were then observed in a Leica hydrogen (C±H) bond bending region (1375±
Cambridge S-360 S scanning electron microscopy 1381 cm 1). With all anhydride modi®cations, an
(SEM). The objective was to study ®bre±matrix increase of the hydrophobicity of the ®bres occurs
bonding quality. and thus the degree of moisture absorption was
reduced accordingly.
Water absorption tests
The effect of water absorption of unmodi®ed and Fibre and composite density characterisation
anhydride modi®ed ®bres was determined on com- In this study, the density of the composites is used to

Rate of grafted moiety

Anhydride WPG (%) Description of adduct (mmol g 1)
Acetic 10 2-carbon hydrophobic group 2.32
Propionic 15 3-carbon hydrophobic group 2.63
Table 1. Weight percentage gain (WPG) of
Succinic 18 4-carbon chain with carboxyl group 1.78
EFB with different anhydride modifications

Figure 2. FT-IR spectra of EFB with

different anhydride modifications.

Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001) 397

HPS Abdul Khalil et al

validate the density values of EFB ®bre previously

determined. The density of EFB was found to be
1.138 g cm 3. The values were within the known range
of plant ®bre density which has been extensively
studied with different methods.1,2,20
Theoretically, the density of a composite may be
calculated from the following equation:
c ˆ     …3†
Wf Wm
f m

where rc rf and rm are densities of composite, ®bre Figure 4. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on density of EFB composites
material and polymer matrix respectively, while Wf at different fibre loading.

and Wm refer to weight fraction of ®bre and matrix in

the composite.
The ®bre volume fraction Vf was calculated from the composites provided evidence to validate the accuracy
equation below. of the pycnometry technique employed in this study
for the determination of EFB ®bre density.
Vf ˆ volume occupied by fibre/volume of composite
…4† Effect of fibre modification on wettability
Since density;  ˆ Mass …M†=volume …V † …5† The effect of ®bre modi®cation upon ®bre wettability
was determined by measuring the density of the
Vf ˆ …Mf f †=…Mc c † …6† composites. The ability of the matrix to wet the ®bres
adequately and form a continuous and homogeneous
where, subscripts f and c refer to ®bre and composite interface results in a compact and dense composite.
respectively. This is also re¯ected in the interfacial strength and
Using predetermined rf (®bre density) values, the mechanical properties of the composite.13,21,22 Figure
theoretical densities of unmodi®ed composites were 4 shows the effects of anhydride modi®cations on the
calculated. Since the values of Wf, Wm and rm can be density of EFB composites at different ®bre loadings.
easily and accurately determined, accuracy of the The density of composites made from the modi®ed
composite density rc is dependent on the accuracy of ®bres is higher at all ®bre loadings compared with
measurement of ®bre density rf. If the theoretical unmodi®ed ®bre samples, thus increasing the work of
value, rc calculated by the eqn (3) agrees with the adhesion.3,4,15 The density of composites increased in
measured composite density, then the rf value the following order: unmodi®ed (lowest) < succinyl <
determined earlier will be accurate. propionyl < and acetyl (highest). However, the density
Figure 3 shows linear plots for the theoretical and decreased with increasing ®bre loading of all modi®ed
measured density values of the unmodi®ed EFB ®bres.
composites at all ®bre loadings. The measured values The reason for this derives from the density of the
were slightly lower than theoretical for all the ®bre matrix which has a dominant in¯uence over the
loadings. This is due to poor penetration of the resin density of the ®bre: the density of original ®bre EFB
into the lumen spaces of the ®bre bundles and also to was 1.138 g cm 3 and the density of matrix was
the presence of voids within the composite. The 1.202 g 3 cm 3. Incorporation of the ®bre into the
consistently close agreement between the theoretical matrix reduced the density of the composites since the
and measured values for all ®bre loadings in the matrix density was higher than ®bre. Composites with
acetylated ®bres exhibited the highest densities com-
pared with those from ®bres made from succinic and
propionic anhydrides.

Effect of modification on mechanical properties

Tensile properties
Properties of ®bre-reinforced composites are strongly
dependent on the interfacial interactions between the
®bres and the matrix. Dispersability of the ®bre in the
resin also depends to a large extent on the wettability
of the ®bre surface by the resin. There is a relationship
between tensile strength (TS), modulus (TM) and
elongation at break (EOB). With increasing ®bre
Figure 3. Comparison of (^) theoretical and (&) measured density of loading, the stiffness of the composites increased
unmodified EFB composites. gradually, with an associated increase in the elongation

398 Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001)

Oil palm empty fruit bunches reinforced polyester composites

Figure 7. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on elongation at break of EFB

Figure 5. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on tensile strength of EFB
composites at different fibre loading.
composites at different fibre loading.

of break. The effect of anhydride modi®cations on TS elongation at break (EOB) for EFB composites. EOB
and TM of EFB composites are shown in Fig 5 and Fig of composites increases proportionally with the ®bre
6, respectively. The changes in TS and TM followed loading. It is interesting to note that EOB increases
the order: acetic (highest) > propionic > succinic when the ®bre loading increases. This is due to the fact
anhydride. The highest TS and TM for the acetylated that the EFB ®bre has a higher EOB (9.7%) than the
®bre composites are achieved at the limiting value of pure matrix (2.9%). Hence, the combination of ®bre
10% WPG of ®bres. It should be noted that 10% WPG and matrix changed the EOB of the composites. EOB
is the maximum for the condition employed for values of modi®ed ®bre composites were in the order:
acetylation. It should further be pointed out that no succinyl > propionyl > acetyl. However, when com-
attempt was made to increase the WPG beyond 10% pared with unmodi®ed ®bres at the same ®bre loading,
since the TS and TM will be adversely affected above the EOB of modi®ed ®bres composites is lower. This
the 10% value. Higher WPG for succinyl (18% WPG) may be due to improved ®bre±matrix bonding, im-
and propionyl (15% WPG) modi®cations may damage proving the strength and stiffness of the composites.
at the interfaces of the cell wall structures of With all modi®ed ®bres, the result is a decrease in
®bres.12,17,23 elongation compared with unmodi®ed ®bres. This
In all cases, there was a gradual increase in both TS may be due to the improved ®bre±matrix adhesion (to
and TM with increasing ®bre loading. There was a give more stiffness to the composites) and because
decrease in TS and TM at low ®bre loadings (Vf = 0.1) modi®ed ®bre were prone to split and fall apart, so
compared with unmodi®ed ®bres. These effects are that, ®bre is more brittle after modi®cation.
due to disruption of the matrix homogeneity and poor When studying tensile fractures of modi®ed EFB
dispersion of the ®bres in the matrix with a tendency to composites, the differences in ®bre±matrix bonding
form agglomerates, so that tensile loads are not are more obvious. Figure 8 (a±c) showed the mode of
effectively transmitted between ®bres. This behaviour failure of ®bre±matrix bonding from the tensile failure:
was not observed when using modi®ed ®bre (acetic, Good direct bonding between the modi®ed (hydro-
succinic and propionic anhydride) in polyester com- phobic) ®bre and polyester matrix. In unmodi®ed
posites. This is probably due to the modi®ed ®bre samples, poor ®bre±matrix bonding (Fig 8d) is
being more hydrophobic, and hence exhibiting better observed in the composites, resulting in an inferior
®bre±matrix adhesion. stress transfer between phases.
Figure 7 shows the effect of ®bre modi®cation on the
Flexural properties
The effect of anhydride modi®cations on FS and FM
of EFB composites are shown in Figure 9 and Figure
10, respectively. The FS of EFB-based polyester
composites are not improved signi®cantly by ®bre
modi®cation. However, a small improvement in FS
was noted at ®bre loadings higher than 0.25. As
expected, the FM (which indicates material stiffness),
increased steadily with increasing ®bre content. All
modi®ed ®bre in polyester composites exhibited
increasingly higher ¯exural modulus as compared with
the unmodi®ed composite as the ®bre loading in-
creased. The changes in FM followed the order: acetyl
Figure 6. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on tensile modulus of EFB > propionyl > succinicyl. The effect on modulus is
composites at different fibre loading. more signi®cant than on FS, with an increase of 27%

Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001) 399

HPS Abdul Khalil et al

Figure 8. SEM micrographs of tensile fracture showing good (a–c) and poor (d) fibre matrix-bonding of EFB composites (2000), 2 cm = 15 mm, at fibre loading
Vf = 0.4.

(acetyl) 20% (propionyl) and 18% (succinyl) at 0.5 Vf. Improved adhesion decreases the critical aspect ratio
The results show that the incorporation of modi®ed so that ®bres with a lower aspect ratio become suf®-
®bre is able to instil stiffness into the thermoset ciently long to bear the load.
composite, particularly at high ®bre loading. Modi®-
cation of EFB ®bre improved compatibility and Impact strength (Charpy)
bonding characteristics by creating compatible surface Figure 11 showed the effect of anhydride modi®cation
energies and formation of good ®bre±matrix bonds.5,13 on the impact properties of EFB composites. With
Modi®cation of ®bres alters the surface properties of unmodi®ed EFB at low ®bre loading decreased impact
the ®bre, leading to better ®bre±matrix adhesion. strength was exhibited similar to that shown by tensile

Figure 9. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on flexural strength of EFB Figure 10. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on flexural modulus of EFB
composites at different fibre loading. composites at different fibre loading.

400 Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001)

Oil palm empty fruit bunches reinforced polyester composites

Figure 11. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on impact strength of EFB Figure 13. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on moisture absorption of
composites at different fibre loading. EFB composites at fibre loading Vf = 0.4 during ageing.

properties. This phenomenon was not observed with adhesion leads to less voids and hence increases the
all modi®ed ®bre composites.24 At ®bre loadings hardness of composites. There is a possibility that
above 0.2 Vf the modi®ed ®bres composites show modi®cation could result in greater plasticisation of
signi®cantly higher impact values than the unmodi- ®bres and in turn greater densi®cation of the compo-
®ed. The increase was about 20±35%. It is suggested sites.
herein that modi®cation improves ®bre wettability. An
improved composite with less void spaces is thus Moisture absorption
produced. This will then mean that there are fewer Results of water absorption are shown in Figure 13.
¯aws in the composites. The lower concentration of The rate of uptake was lower for modi®ed compared
¯aws means less sites for crack formation. The tough- with unmodi®ed EFB-based composites after 100
ness of a composite is substantially in¯uenced by the days exposure in water. The rate of water uptake
strength of the ®bre±matrix bond. Further incorpora- decreased in the order: unmodi®ed (highest) >
tion of ®bres with loadings up to 0.5 Vf slightly succinylated > propionylated > acetylated (lowest).
decreases the impact properties. This decrease is larger Unlike acetic and propionic anhydrides, succinic
than observed with unmodi®ed ®bres. anhydride is thought not to reduce the number of
hydrophobic groups in the ®bres when it was reacted
Rockwell hardness B with ®bres. This is due to the formation of carboxyl
The effect of modi®cation on the Rockwell hardness of groups as the cyclic anhydride breaks open. Unmodi-
EFB composites is shown in Fig 12. In all cases, the ®ed EFB ®bre-based composites would exhibit higher
incorporation of ®bre into the polyester matrix rates of moisture sorption due to the hydrophilic
decreases the hardness of the composite. As the ®bre nature of the lignocellulosic, as well as due to capillary
loading increases the composites became stiffer and action in the matrix when ®bre composites are exposed
softer. An increase of hardness of about 10±15% in all to water.9,20 The high water absorption leads to
®bre modi®cations was seen in modi®ed ®bre-rein- changes in the dimensional properties of the samples.
forced composites compared with unmodi®ed. There As a result, cracks may be formed in the matrix due to
is a possibility that modi®cation could result in greater the swelling of the ®bres. This may contribute to the
densi®cation25 of the ®bre and in greater wettability penetration of more water into the composites during
that has been explained from the results of tensile, prolonged exposure.
¯exural and impact properties. Better ®bre±matrix A greatly reduced relative water uptake occurred
after modi®cation when compared to the unmodi®ed
material due to good interfacial contact between ®bre
and matrix, and because the ®bres have become more
hydrophobic.7,8 Modi®cation of the cell-wall polymer
hydroxyl groups reduced moisture uptake in these
samples and this is attributed to better ®bre±matrix
contact. Hence, there was lower void formation in the
composite. This will also be a factor in the behaviour of
modi®ed ®bre-based composites. The relative rates of
moisture uptake correlate with the effect of different
anhydride modi®cation upon mechanical properties.

Figure 12. Effect of anhydride modified fibre on Rockwell hardness B of Utilisation of oil palm empty fruit bunches will
EFB composites at different fibre loading. eliminate the problem of waste disposal and lead to a

Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001) 401

HPS Abdul Khalil et al

new composite product with good mechanical and 5 Bisanda ETN and Ansell MP, Comp Sci Tech 41:165 (1991).
moisture absorption properties. The investigations 6 Abdul Khalil HPS and Ismail H, Polym Test 9:42±56.
7 Varma IK, Krishnan SRA and Krishnamoorthy S, Text Res Inst
have looked at the use of chemically modi®ed oil palm
58:537 (1988).
empty fruit bunches in polyester composites. It can be 8 Gassan J and Bledzki AK, ANTEC 2:2552 (1996).
concluded that acetic, succinic and propionic anhy- 9 Gassan J and Bledzki AK, Polym Comp 18:179 (1997).
drides have been found to react with EFB ®bres. 10 Rozman HD, Abdul Khalil HPS, Kumar RN, Abusamah A and
Modi®cation resulted in hydrophobic ®bres and hence Kon BK, Int J Polym Mater 32:247 (1995).
improved ®bre±matrix bonding. Among the anhy- 11 Ismail H, Nizam JM and Abdul Khalil HPS, Polym Test (2001)
(in press).
dride-modi®ed EFB ®bres investigated, acetylated
12 Hill CAS, Abdul Khalil HPS and Hale MD, Ind Crops Products
®bres showed the highest tensile, ¯exural, impact 8:53 (1998).
and hardness properties followed by propionylated 13 Pal SK, Mukhopadhyay SKD, Sanyal SK and Mukherjea RN,
and then succinylated at different ®bre volume fraction J Appl Polym Sci 35:973 (1988).
due to improving the compatibility between ®bre and 14 Kokta BV, Raj RG and Maldas D, Polym±Plastics Tech Engng
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15 Varma IK, Krishnan SRA and Krishnamoorthy S, Text Res Inst
dependent upon ®bre modi®cation. The water ab-
58:537 (1988).
sorbed in EFB composites followed the order un- 16 Rozman HD, Kumar RN, Abdul Khalil HPS, Abusamah A, Lim
modi®ed (highest) > succinyl > propionyl > acetyl PP and Ismail H, Eur Polym J 33:225 (1997).
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18 Abdul Khalil HPS, Rozman HD, Ahmad MN and Ismail H,
Polym±Plastics Tech Engng 39:757 (2000).
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 19 Silverstein RM, Bassler GC and Morrill TC, Spectrometric
Identi®cation Organic Compounds, John Wiley and Sons, New
The authors would like to thank Universiti Sains
York, USA (1991).
Malaysia, Penang for the research grant that has made 20 Bledzki AK, Reihmane S and Gassan J, J App Polym Sci 59:1329
this work possible. (1996).
21 Drzal LT and Madhukar M, J Mater Sci 28:569 (1993).
22 Liu FP, Wolcott MP, Gardner DJ and Rials TG, Comp Interfaces
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402 Polym Int 50:395±402 (2001)