Comparison of Water Uptake as Function of Surface Modification of Empty Fruit Bunch Oil Palm Fibres in PP Biocomposites

Thorsak Kittikorn, Emma Strömberg, Monica Ek, Sigbritt Karlsson


Empty fruit bunch oil palm (EFBOP) fibres were surface modified by four different methods, propionylation, vinyltrimethoxy silanization, PPgMA dissolution modification, and PPgMA blending, and integrated into a polypropylene (PP) matrix. The designed biocomposites were subjected to an absorption process at different temperatures. Their water uptake behaviour was compared with the unmodified fibre biocomposites. An increased fibre content and temperature resulted in increased water uptake for all of the biocomposites. The biocomposites containing modified fibres showed a reduction in water uptake, rate of diffusion, sorption, and permeation in comparison with unmodified fibre composites. Comparing the 20 wt% fibre composites at ambient temperature, the performance in water absorption followed the sequence silanization < propionylation < PPgMA dissolution modification < PPgMA blending < no modification. Furthermore, the lowest water absorption was obtained from the silanized fibre/PP composite with 40% fibre content at ambient temperature. Dissolution or blending of PPgMA gave similar water uptake results. The reduction of diffusion, sorption, and permeation confirmed that the modification of fibres was potentially effective at resisting water penetration into the composites.


Oil palm fibre; Polypropylene; Biocomposite; Fibre modification; Water

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