Vol 7, No 6 (2016) > Metalurgy and Material Engineering >

Effect of Alkaline Treatment on the Properties of Oil Palm Empty Fruit Bunch Fiber-reinforced Polypropylene Composite

Warman Fatra, Helena Rouhillahi, Zuchra Helwani, Zulfansyah Zulfansyah, Jecky Asmura


Abstract: Oil palm empty fruit
bunch (OPEFB) is one of the waste products of oil palm plantations and
has not been optimally used in Riau Province, Sumatera, Indonesia.
OPEFB is reduced by incineration, which causes pollution problems. However, the combustion of OPEFB generates ash, which is rich in potassium.
Moreover, OPEFB fiber has good strength, low cost, low
density, and biodegradability, and it can be
used as composite reinforcement. However, the natural fibers in composites have poor
compatibility with the matrix
and relatively high moisture
absorption. Hydrolysis of OPEFB ash creates a base solution
that can be utilized in an alkaline treatment process to increase the
mechanical properties of natural composites. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of various extracts of OPEFB ash on
the tensile strength, flexural strength, and
water absorption of an OPEFB
fiber-polypropylene composite. The experimental
design used was the Response Surface Method-Central Composite Design (RSM-CCD).
The results showed that the tensile strength increased with an increase
of fiber length and concentration of the
OPEFB ash extract solution, but tensile strength decreased with a longer
soaking time. Flexural
strength increased with an increase in fiber length
but decreased with an increase in the concentration
of the OPEFB ash extract solution and longer soaking time. Water absorption increased with lower and higher concentrations of OPEFB ash extract solution and
fiber length and with shorter and longer soaking times. The highest
tensile strength (20.100 MPa) was achieved at 5%wt alkaline concentration, 36 h
soaking time, and 3 cm fiber length. The highest flexural strength (30.216
MPa) was achieved at 5%wt alkaline concentration, 12
h soaking time, and 3 cm fiber length. The lowest water absorption
(0.324%) was achieved at 10%wt alkaline concentration, 24 h soaking time, and 2
cm fiber length.
Keywords: Alkaline treatment; Flexural strength; Oil palm empty fruit bunch; Tensile strength; Water absorption

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