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International Journal of Materials and Biomaterials Applications

Universal Research Publications. All rights reserved

ISSN 22499679
Original Article
Water Absorption behaviour of Areca Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites
Srinivasa.C.V, Bharath.K.N*
Department of Mechanical Engineering, GM Institute of Technology
Davangere-577 006, Karnataka, INDIA
* Corresponding author mail ID
Ph. No. - +919844400397
Received 18 May 2012; accepted 11 June 2012
Extracted fibers from the areca husk were chemically treated and composites were prepared using urea-formaldehyde resin
with randomly orientated of fibers. Based on the criteria that fibers are the main load-bearing agents, the composites were
prepared with 60% of areca fibers and 40% of the matrix. The specimens were immersed in seawater, river water, pond water
and ground water at room temperature. Areca composites showed more absorption of pond water compared to bore-well water
and seawater. Present work reveals that areca composites absorb less amount of water when compared to conventional woodbased particle board.
2011 Universal Research Publications. All rights reserved
Keywords: chemical treatment, lignocellulosic fibers, water absorption, bio-composites.

Natural fibers can be described as lignocellulosics.
Lignocellulosics include wood, agricultural residue, water
plants, grasses, and other plant substances. Natural fibers
have the composition, properties, and structure that makes
them suitable for uses such as composite, textile, and pulp
and paper manufacture. In addition, natural fibers can also be
used to produce fuel, chemicals, enzymes, and food. The
current major uses of hard cellulose fibers like flax, jute,
banana, sisal, pineapple leaf fiber are in textile, packaging,
low-cost housing, paper manufacturing industries, and other
general applications. These fibers are considered as hard
cellulose fibers because of their high tensile modulus and low
elongation at break. Many attempts were made by scientists
and technologists to utilize natural fibers in the fabrication of
composites. The increasing interest in introducing degradable
and inexpensive reinforcement materials which have been
environment-friendly has stimulated the use of hard cellulose
The husk fiber is composed of cellulose with
varying proportions of hemicellulose (3564.8%), lignin
(13.026.0%), pectin and protopectin [1]. The poor resistance
of the fibers to water absorption can have undesirable effects
on the mechanical properties and the dimensional stability of


the composites [2]. Therefore, it is important to study in

detail the water absorption behavior in order to estimate not
only the consequences that the water absorbed may have, but
also the durability of natural fibers composites aged under
water. Water penetration into composite materials is
conducted by three different mechanisms [5]. The main
process consists of diffusion of water molecules inside the
microgaps between polymer chains. The other common
mechanisms are capillary transport into the gaps and flaws at
the interfaces between fibers and polymer, because of
incomplete wettability and impregnation and transport by
microcracks in the matrix, formed during the compounding
process [5, 6]. In spite of the fact that all three mechanisms
are acting jointly in case of water exposure of the composite
materials, the overall effect can be modeled conveniently
considering only the diffusion mechanism. This paper is
concerned with water absorption of areca fiber composites
under sea water, river water, pond water, and ground water
and exposed to controlled cycles of wetting and drying.
To prepare the composite, areca fibers used as
reinforcement, urea- formaldehyde resin is used as the matrix
and this composite is chemically treated with NaOH. Selected
areca husks were used to study the strength and to prepare the

International Journal of Materials and Biomaterials Applications 2012; 2(2): 12-14

Fig.1. Areca Husk

composites. Fig. 1 shows the areca husk which are used to
prepare composites. The dried Areca husk was soaked in
water for about five days. The soaking process loosens the
fibers and can be extracted out easily. Finally, the fibers were
washed again with water and dried at room temperature about
15 days. The dried fibers are designated as untreated fibers.
The fibers are first dewaxed by soaking areca fibers
in 1:2 mixtures of ethanol and benzene for 72 h at 50 oC,
followed by washing with water and then air dried. The
dewaxed fibers are immersed in 15% NaOH solution for 30 h
at 30o C, then washed thoroughly with water and air dried to
get alkali treated fibers. Fabrication of the composites, the
mould was polished and then a mould-releasing agent applied
on the surface. The matrix material is prepared from
commercially available urea formaldehyde resin. Thoroughly
mixed fibers and matrix material was filled into the mould.
The mould was then pressed in a hydraulic press at 1 MPa for
30 min and cured at room temperature.

Fig.2. Specimen prepared for water absorption test

Water absorption testing of composites has been
carried out by taking rectangular bars (10 mm thick, 75 mm
long and 50 mm wide) from the composite sheet. Fig. 2
shows the specimen used to carry out the water absorption


Fig.3. shows the water absorption of composites for various

types of water
test. Composite samples were dried in an oven at 70 o C for
about 24 h, weighed and then soaked in a bath of lake water,
river water, seawater and ground water at room temperature.
For every 24 h, the composite samples were removed from
the water, dried with a cotton cloth and weighed again till
samples attain saturation.
Water is predominantly absorbed at the fiber
interface and matrix. As evident from Fig. 3 that water
content of the composite increased with time and became a
constant. It is found that specimens absorbed water by
32.41%, 25.10%, 20.52%, and 18.90% of its weight in pond
water, river water, seawater and ground water respectively.
Most natural fibers absorb more water compared to synthetic
The amount of water in the composite
increased with time and later becomes saturated. . However,
areca reinforced composites showed more absorption of pond
water than ground water and seawater. The results suggest
that areca fiber is a potential candidate for reinforcement in
polymer composites and is a better material compared to
conventional wood based plywood or particle boards.
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Source of support: Nil; Conflict of interest: None declared


International Journal of Materials and Biomaterials Applications 2012; 2(2): 12-14