Carbon storage potential in natural fiber composites

  • Pervaiz M
  • Sain M
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The environmental performance of hemp based natural fiber mat thermoplastic (NMT) has been evaluated in this study by quantifying carbon storage potential and CO2emissions and comparing the results with commercially available glass fiber composites. Non-woven mats of hemp fiber and polypropylene matrix were used to make NMT samples by film-stacking method without using any binder aid. The results showed that hemp based NMT have compatible or even better strength properties as compared to conventional flax based thermoplastics. A value of 63 MPa for flexural strength is achieved at 64% fiber content by weight. Similarly, impact energy values (84-154 J/m) are also promising. The carbon sequestration and storage by hemp crop through photosynthesis is estimated by quantifying dry biomass of fibers based on one metric ton of NMT. A value of 325 kg carbon per metric ton of hemp based composite is estimated which can be stored by the product during its useful life. An extra 22% carbon storage can be achieved by increasing the compression ratio by 13% while maintaining same flexural strength. Further, net carbon sequestration by industrial hemp crop is estimated as 0.67 ton/h/year, which is compatible to all USA urban trees and very close to naturally, regenerated forests. A comparative life cycle analysis focused on non-renewable energy consumption of natural and glass fiber composites shows that a net saving of 50 000 MJ (∼3 ton CO2emissions) per ton of thermoplastic can be achieved by replacing 30% glass fiber reinforcement with 65% hemp fiber. It is further estimated that 3.07 million ton CO2emissions (4.3% of total USA industrial emissions) and 1.19 million m3crude oil (1.0% of total Canadian oil consumption) can be saved by substituting 50% fiber glass plastics with natural fiber composites in North American auto applications. However, to compete with glass fiber effectively, further research is needed to improve natural fiber processing, interfacial bonding and control moisture sensitivity in longer run. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Auto applications
  • Carbon dioxide emissions
  • Carbon storage
  • Green house gases
  • Hemp fiber
  • Mat-reinforced
  • Mechanical performance
  • Natural fiber composites

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  • Muhammad Pervaiz

  • Mohini M. Sain

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