The Effects of Fire Retardant Additives on the Properties of Flax Fiber Bio-Resin Composites at Room and Elevated Temperatures
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Today, throughout the engineering world, there is a large emphasis being placed on the environment which requires the development of new greener materials. This is no different in the realm of composite materials with natural fibers and new bio-based resins being investigated to replace their synthetic alternatives. However, a large obstacle has prevented a more wide spread use of green Natural Fiber Reinforced Polymer (NFRP) materials, and that is their poor elevated temperature (ET) and fire performance. One common method for increasing the fire performance of a material is the incorporation of fire retardant (FR) additives. The purpose of this research was to investigate, and try to maximize, the ET properties of new NFRP composites. Specifically, this included evaluating the mechanical properties of NFRP composites at room temperature (RT) and ET, as well as assessing the effect of FR additives on these properties. A secondary goal of this research included comparing a synthetic epoxy resin, Biresin, with a bio-based epoxy resin, Super Sap. This was accomplished using one type of natural fiber (flax), two resins (one synthetic, one bio-based) and three FR additives. In all, four different testing methods were employed. The first was Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) analysis of all composite materials. The second type of testing evaluated the resin plus additive combinations without any fibers. The final two types of testing evaluated the mechanical properties of the fabricated NFRP at RT and ET. Several important conclusions were reached with regards to this research. One of these noted the percentage loadings used in this research did not negatively affect the NFRP samples enough to be considered a major hindrance against their use in NFRP fabrication. It was also determined Super Sap composites could be used as an appropriate replacement for Biresin FRP composites in high temperature applications. Finally, two recommendations toward NFRP design, for RT and ET applications, are proposed. From this research, the gained knowledge will aid in the future design and construction of NFRP materials used in possible fire and ET situations.