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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 564346, 14 pages
Review Article

Wood versus Plant Fibers: Similarities and Differences in Composite Applications

1Department of Wind Energy, Section of Composites and Materials Mechanics, Risø Campus, Technical University of Denmark, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
2Department of Engineering Sciences, Ångström Laboratory, Uppsala University, 75121 Uppsala, Sweden

Received 10 January 2013; Accepted 31 March 2013

Academic Editor: Dachamir Hotza

Copyright © 2013 Bo Madsen and E. Kristofer Gamstedt. 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.


The work on cellulose fiber composites is typically strictly divided into two separated research fields depending on the fiber origin, that is, from wood and from annual plants, representing the two different industries of forest and agriculture, respectively. The present paper evaluates in parallel wood fibers and plant fibers to highlight their similarities and differences regarding their use as reinforcement in composites and to enable mutual transfer of knowledge and technology between the two research fields. The paper gives an introduction to the morphology, chemistry, and ultrastructure of the fibers, the modeling of the mechanical properties of the fibers, the fiber preforms available for manufacturing of composites, the typical mechanical properties of the composites, the modeling of the mechanical properties with focus on composites having a random fiber orientation and a non-negligible porosity content, and finally, the moisture sensitivity of the composites. The performance of wood and plant fiber composites is compared to the synthetic glass and carbon fibers conventionally used for composites, and advantages and disadvantages of the different fibers are discussed.