Micromechanics of Mechanical, Thermomechanical, and Chemi-Thermomechanical Pulp from Orange Tree Pruning as Polypropylene Reinforcement: A Comparative Study

Rafel Reixach, Elena Franco-Marquès, Nour-Eddine El Mansouri, Francisco Ramirez de Cartagena, Gerard Arbat, Francesc X. Espinach, Pere Mutjé


This work explores the use of mechanical (MP), thermomechanical (TMP), and chemi-thermomechanical (CTMP) pulps from orange tree pruning fibers (OPF) as reinforcing elements of polypropylene (PP) composites. Due to the nature of the natural fibers, the use of a coupling agent is needed to attain a good interface and to prevent fiber slippage from the matrix. The main objective of the present work was to investigate the orientation factor, the interfacial shear strength, and the intrinsic strength of the OPF. Coupled and non-coupled composites were formulated and tested, optimizing the coupling agent content with the objective of maximizing the tensile strength of the composites. Hirsch and Kelly-Tyson models and the Bowyer-Bader methodology were used to compute the micromechanic properties. The contribution of subcritical, supercritical fibers, and matrix were also calculated.


Orange tree pruning; Mechanical pulp; Thermomechanical pulp; Chemi-thermomechanical pulp; Cationic demand; Interfacial shear strength; Orientation factor; Intrinsic tensile strength

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