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International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 212047, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/212047
Research Article

Kenaf Bast Fibers—Part I: Hermetical Alkali Digestion

1Forest Products Department (FPD), Mississippi State University (MSU), Box 9820, Starkville, MS 39762-9601, USA
2Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS), Box 5405, Starkville, MS 39762-5405, USA

Received 1 April 2011; Accepted 16 May 2011

Academic Editor: Susheel Kalia

Copyright © 2011 Jinshu Shi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The objective of this study was to develop a hermetical alkali digestion process to obtain single cellulosic fibers from kenaf bast. Kenaf bast were hermetically digested into single fiber using a 5% sodium hydroxide solution for one hour at four different temperatures (80°C, 110°C, 130°C, and 160°C). The hermetical digestion process used in this study produced fibers with high cellulose content (84.2–92.3%) due to the removal of lignin and hemicelluloses. The surface hardness and elastic modulus of the fibers digested at 130°C and 160°C were improved significantly compared with those digested at 80°C. The tensile modulus and tensile strength of the individual fibers reduced as the digestion temperature increased from 110°C to 160°C. Micropores were generated in fiber cell wall when the fibers were digested at 130°C and 160°C. The studies on the composites that were made from polypropylene reinforced with the digested fibers indicated that the compatibility between the digested fibers and polypropylene matrix was poor.