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Recycling and Fibre Reinforcement of Thermoplastic Wastes to Produce Composites for Construction Works

Keywords: Binders , composite , construction materials , fibers , recycling , thermoplastic wastes

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Thermoplastics are among polymers that biodegrades very slowly over a very long period and can be regarded as nonbiodegradable despite their rapid accumulation in the environment. The use of plant natural fibres as reinforcement for thermoplastics to produce composites is an important area for research. In this study, composites of high density polyethylene wastes reinforced with wood flour, rice husks and bagasse fibers were prepared. The fibers were heated to reduce their moisture content and improve their compatibilities with heated high density polyethylene wastes so as to increase adhesion at the interface. Binders were used to improve interfacial strength of the composite. Composites were prepared by extrusion. From preliminary laboratory test results based on Fratios using ANOVA, optimal coupon was found to be wood flour mixed with high density polyethylene and polyurethane resin (X 17) heated to 210oC and extruded at 140oC. The final test results for mechanical properties for optimal wood flour, rice husks and bagasse composites respectively were: Tensile strength; 83.87, 74, and 62.73 MPa. Flexural strength; 26.73, 39and 15.22 MPa. Compressive; 225, 190.5 and 140 MPa and Impact; 78, 81 and 66 J/mm2. The use of binders significantly improved impact strengths and widely expanded the usage of such product to include light load structural applications thus offering alternative source of construction materials to supplement timber and hence save forests. The technology can create employment to thermoplastic waste collectors, fibre collectors and composite producers.


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