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International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2011, Article ID 192865, 9 pages
Research Article

Time Effects on Morphology and Bonding Ability in Mercerized Natural Fibers for Composite Reinforcement

1Tuskegee Center for Advanced Materials, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL 36088, USA
2Universal Technologies Corporation (UTC), 1270 N. Fairfield Rd., Dayton, OH 45432, USA
3Materials & Manufacturing Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, WPAFB 2941 Hobson Way, Dyton, OH 45433, USA
4Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Received 29 March 2011; Accepted 3 May 2011

Academic Editor: Susheel Kalia

Copyright © 2011 T. Williams 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.


Properties of cellulose-derived fibers are extremely sensitive to surface treatment. Many studies have investigated the effects of varying surface treatment parameters in natural fibers to improve fiber-matrix bonding; however, work is still needed to assist with developing better quality control methods to use these fibers in more load-bearing composites. Kenaf fibers were alkali treated, and the surface and morphology were analyzed to determine how treatment time affected the bonding sites in natural fibers. The mechanical behavior was also characterized, and tensile testing reported a 61% increase in strength and a 25% increase in modulus in fibers treated for 16 hours. The increase in tensile properties was assumed to result from increased intermolecular interaction and increased crystallinity in cellulose, which was supported by XRD. On the other hand, FTIR spectroscopy and XPS showed that the amount of hydroxyl groups needed for fiber-matrix bonding decreased at longer treatment times.