Mechanical and Thermal Properties of Hemp Fiber-Unsaturated Polyester Composites Toughened by Butyl Methacrylate

Tianshun Xie, Wendi Liu, Tingting Chen, Renhui Qiu


Hemp fiber-reinforced unsaturated polyester (UPE) composites were prepared by hand lay-up compression molding. The UPE resins were modified with butyl methacrylate (BMA) to improve the flexibility and toughness of the hemp-UPE composites. The results indicate that the toughness of the composites significantly increased as BMA usage increased. Compared to the unmodified UPE composites, the composites obtained from BMA-modified UPE resins had 27.4, 63.0, and 36.6% greater elongation at break, flexural strain, and impact strength, respectively. The optimum BMA usage to achieve an adequate balance of stiffness and toughness is 20 to 30%. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) indicated that incorporation of BMA significantly decreased the storage modulus and glass transition temperature of the composites and increased its damping parameter due to the introduction of flexible segments into the UPE resins. Thermogravimetric analysis showed that the thermal stability of the composites decreased slightly following the incorporation of BMA. Scanning electron microscopy images of the impact-fractured surfaces of the composites revealed that BMA incorporation improved interfacial adhesion between hemp fibers and UPE matrices and that the main mechanism for the increase in the toughness of the composites was the added ductility of the matrices.


Hemp fibers; Unsaturated polyester; Composites; Toughness; Butyl methacrylate; Mechanical properties; Thermal properties

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