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Fibers, Volume 9, Issue 8 (August 2021) – 6 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The combined effect of mechanical stripping and alkali treatment on the heavily lignified Acacia Caesia bark fibers does produce a positive result in the improvement of thermal degradation resistance and tensile strength. On the other hand, this also causes the removal of loose cellular material, which regularizes to a point the fiber diameter and allows its possible use in polymer composites, to be verified in further studies. View this paper.
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Review
Critical Factors for Optimum Biodegradation of Bast Fiber’s Gums in Bacterial Retting
Fibers 2021, 9(8), 52; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fib9080052 - 12 Aug 2021
Viewed by 459
Abstract
Bast fiber plants require a post-harvest process to yield useable natural cellulosic fibers, denoted as retting or degumming. It encompasses the degradation of the cell wall’s non-cellulosic gummy substances (NCGs), facilitating fibers separations, setting the fiber’s quality, and determining downstream usages. Due to [...] Read more.
Bast fiber plants require a post-harvest process to yield useable natural cellulosic fibers, denoted as retting or degumming. It encompasses the degradation of the cell wall’s non-cellulosic gummy substances (NCGs), facilitating fibers separations, setting the fiber’s quality, and determining downstream usages. Due to the inconvenience of traditional retting practices, bacterial inoculum and enzyme applications for retting gained attention. Therefore, concurrent changes of agroclimatic and socioeconomic conditions, the conventional water retting confront multiple difficulties, bast industries become vulnerable, and bacterial agents mediated augmented bio-retting processes trying to adapt to sustainability. However, this process’s success demands a delicate balance among substrates and retting-related biotic and abiotic factors. These critical factors were coupled to degrade bast fibers NCGs in bacterial retting while holistically disregarded in basic research. In this study, a set of factors were defined that critically regulates the process and requires to be comprehended to achieve optimum retting without failure. This review presents the bacterial strain characteristics, enzyme potentials, specific bast plant cell wall’s structure, compositions, solvents, and interactions relating to the maximum NCGs removal. Among plants, associated factors pectin is the primary biding material that determines the process’s dynamics, while its degree of esterification has a proficient effect through bacterial enzymatic degradation. The accomplished bast plant cell wall’s structure, macerating solvents pH, and temperature greatly influence the bacterial retting process. This article also highlights the remediation process of water retting pollution in a biocompatible manner concerning the bast fiber industry’s endurance. Full article
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Article
Mechanical and Structural Characterization of Pineapple Leaf Fiber
Fibers 2021, 9(8), 51; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fib9080051 - 06 Aug 2021
Viewed by 342
Abstract
Evidence-based research had shown that elevated alkali treatment of pineapple leaf fiber (PALF) compromised the mechanical properties of the fiber. In this work, PALF was subjected to differential alkali concentrations: 1, 3, 6, and 9% wt/wt to study the influence on the mechanical [...] Read more.
Evidence-based research had shown that elevated alkali treatment of pineapple leaf fiber (PALF) compromised the mechanical properties of the fiber. In this work, PALF was subjected to differential alkali concentrations: 1, 3, 6, and 9% wt/wt to study the influence on the mechanical and crystal properties of the fiber. The crystalline and mechanical properties of untreated and alkali-treated PALF samples were investigated by X-ray diffractometry (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and tensile testing analysis. The XRD results indicated that crystal properties of the fibers were modified with 6% wt/wt alkali-treated PALF recording the highest crystallinity and crystallite size of 76% and 24 nm, respectively. The FTIR spectra suggested that all alkali-treated PALF samples underwent lignin and hemicellulose removal to varying degrees. An increase in the crystalline properties improved the mechanical properties of the PALF treated with alkali at 6% wt/wt, which has the highest tensile strength (1620 MPa). Although the elevated alkali treatment resulted in decreased mechanical properties of PALF, crystallinity generally increased. The findings revealed that the mechanical properties of PALF not only improve with increasing crystallinity and crystallite size, but are also dependent on the intermediate bond between adjacent cellulose chains. Full article
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Article
Framework for Predicting Failure in Polymeric Unidirectional Composites through Combined Experimental and Computational Mesoscale Modeling Techniques
Fibers 2021, 9(8), 50; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fib9080050 - 02 Aug 2021
Viewed by 333
Abstract
As composites continue to be increasingly used, finite element material models that homogenize the composite response become the only logical choice as not only modeling the entire composite microstructure is computationally expensive but obtaining the entire suite of experimental data to characterize deformation [...] Read more.
As composites continue to be increasingly used, finite element material models that homogenize the composite response become the only logical choice as not only modeling the entire composite microstructure is computationally expensive but obtaining the entire suite of experimental data to characterize deformation and failure may not be possible. The focus of this paper is the development of a modeling framework where plasticity, damage, and failure-related experimental data are obtained for each composite constituent. Mesoscale finite elements models consisting of multiple repeating unit cells are then generated and used to represent a typical carbon fiber/epoxy resin unidirectional composite to generate the complete principal direction stress-strain curves. These models are subjected to various uniaxial states of stress and compared with experimental data. They demonstrate a reasonable match and provide the basic framework to completely define the composite homogenized material model that can be used as a vehicle for failure predictions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer Fibers and Composites)
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Article
Effect of Alkali Treatment on the Properties of Acacia Caesia Bark Fibres
Fibers 2021, 9(8), 49; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fib9080049 - 02 Aug 2021
Viewed by 450
Abstract
As possible substitutes for non-biodegradable synthetic fibre, ligno-cellulosic fibres have attracted much interest for their eco-friendliness; a large number of them are already used for the production of green polymer composites. The search for further green candidates brings into focus other fibres not [...] Read more.
As possible substitutes for non-biodegradable synthetic fibre, ligno-cellulosic fibres have attracted much interest for their eco-friendliness; a large number of them are already used for the production of green polymer composites. The search for further green candidates brings into focus other fibres not previously considered, yet part of other production systems, therefore available as by-products or refuse. The purpose of this study is to explore the potential of alkali treatment with 5% sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to enhance the properties of bark-extracted Acacia Caesia Bark (ACB) fibres. The microscopic structure of the treated fibres was elucidated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Moreover, the fibres were characterised in terms of chemical composition and density and subjected to single-fibre tensile tests (SFTT). Following their physico-chemical characterisation, fibre samples underwent thermal characterisation by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and their crystallinity was assessed using X-ray diffraction (XRD). This level of alkali treatment only marginally modified the structure of the fibres and offered some improvement in their tensile strength. This suggested that they compare well with other bark fibres and that their thermal profile showed some increase of degradation onset temperature with respect to untreated ACB fibres. Their crystallinity would allow their application in the form of fibres with an average length of approximately 150 mm, even in thermoplastic biocomposites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Fibers II)
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Article
Effect of Nanoclay Addition on the Morphology, Fiber Size Distribution and Pore Size of Electrospun Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) Composite Fibers for Air Filter Applications
Fibers 2021, 9(8), 48; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fib9080048 - 01 Aug 2021
Viewed by 413
Abstract
The fabrication of Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) electrospun layers for air filter applications is the target of this study. Solutions of 10% PVP containing 0, 3, 10 and 25 wt% nanoclay were used to fabricate electrospun fibers. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the fibers’ roughness [...] Read more.
The fabrication of Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) electrospun layers for air filter applications is the target of this study. Solutions of 10% PVP containing 0, 3, 10 and 25 wt% nanoclay were used to fabricate electrospun fibers. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the fibers’ roughness increased by increasing the nanoclay content, and it was maximum at the nanoclay concentration of 25 wt%. Concurrently, nanoclay decreased the pore size considerably and increased the range of the fibers’ size distribution up to 100%. In addition, as the nanoclay concentration increased, the frequency distribution decreased abruptly for the larger fiber sizes and increased dramatically for the small fiber sizes. This phenomenon was correlated to the effect of nanoclay concentration on the conductivity of the solution. The solution’s conductivity increased from 1.7 ± 0.05 µS/cm for the PVP solution without nanoclay to 62.7 ± 0.19 µS/cm for the solution containing 25 wt% nanoclay and destabilized the electrospun jet, increasing the range of fiber size distribution. Therefore, the PVP solution containing 25 wt% nanoclay has potential characteristics suitable for air-filter applications, owing to its rougher fibers and combination of fine and thicker fibers. Full article
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Article
Hazardous Elements in Asbestos Tremolite from the Basilicata Region, Southern Italy: A First Step
Fibers 2021, 9(8), 47; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/fib9080047 - 01 Aug 2021
Viewed by 443
Abstract
In this paper, we report the quantification of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) hosted into two tremolite asbestos from Episcopia and San Severino Lucano villages (Basilicata region, Southern Italy). Micro X-ray fluorescence and Inductively Coupled Plasma spectroscopy with Optical Emission Spectrometry techniques were used [...] Read more.
In this paper, we report the quantification of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) hosted into two tremolite asbestos from Episcopia and San Severino Lucano villages (Basilicata region, Southern Italy). Micro X-ray fluorescence and Inductively Coupled Plasma spectroscopy with Optical Emission Spectrometry techniques were used to quantify the concentration of major, minor (Si, Mg, Ca, Al, Fe, Mn) and trace elements (As, Ba, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Li, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Sn Sr, Ti, Te, V, W, Zn, Zr), with the aim of providing available data useful for the determination of the asbestos fibers toxicity. Results show that in the two studied samples there exist high concentrations of Fe, Mn, Cr and Ni which could lead to the high toxicity of the mineral fibers. By considering the pseudo-total PTEs amounts in each tremolite asbestos, it is possible to affirm that one of the samples is more enriched in toxic elements than the other one (3572 ppm versus 1384 ppm). These PTEs can represent a source of risk to human health since they may be transported away from the geological outcrops, through asbestos in the air, water and soils and thus encountering the human body. Full article
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