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RRL for TEXTILE FIBER PRODUCED FROM NAPIER GRASS BAGASSE CELLULOSE: AN

AGRO-INDUSTRIAL RESIDUE

Textile manufacturing is a major industry. It is based on the conversion


of fibre into yarn, yarn into fabric. These are then dyed or printed, fabricated
into clothes. Different types of fiber are used to produce yarn.Cotton remains the
most important natural fibre, so is treated in depth. There are many variable
processes available at the spinning and fabric-forming stages coupled with the
complexities of the finishing and colouration processes to the production of a wide
ranges of products. There remains a large industry that uses hand techniques to
achieve the same results.
For a fiber to be suitable for textile purposes certain qualities are essential
and others are desirable. The length of the fiber should be several hundred times
the width,
which enables fibers to be twisted together to form a yarn. The actual length of the
fiber
is also important. It can be infinitely long, but should not be shorter than 6 to 12
mm, or it
may not hold together after sinning (Batra, 1983). The apparent limitation on length
of
the Napier Grass is the internode length, and this varies from 5 to 25cm. The length
of the ultimate fiber cells is from 2 to 4 mm (Paturau, 1989). The length of extracted
fiber bundles depends on extraction conditions and the extraction process.
Fibers must be strong to withstand spinning and weaving processes. Fiber
strength
is typically normalized by reporting tensile strength as tenacity. Tenacity is the
breaking load in grams divided by the linear density. Linear density, the mass or
weight
of a unit length of fiber, is given as grams per 1000m and called tex, or as grams
per

9000m and called denier. The tenacity of the sugar cane fibers extracted under
different
conditions is variable according to extraction conditions. The results of a previous
study showed that the bending properties ofsugar cane fiber are significantly
affected by extraction variables (Collier et al, 1992).Those variables include
pretreatment time, temperature, concentration of alkali solution, and presence of
steam explosion.
Research at University of Johannesburg has been conducted to analyze the
properties of Napier Grass fiber to asses heir suitability as reinforcement in the
polymer composites Napier grass fibre strands were characterized using NaOH and
acetic acid treatment. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Scanning
Electron Microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD), Thermo gravimetric
analysis (TGA), Chemical analysis,and Tensile testing techniques were used to
characterize untreated, NaOH (5, 10, and 15%) and acetic acid (5, 10, and 15%)
treated fibre strands. Of both treatments in the present work, it was observed that
NaOH treatment contributes better characteristics over acetic acid treatment.
Therefore, the NaOH treated native African Napier grass fibre strands were used to
produce composites with epoxy resin as matrix material using hand lay-up
technique. Epoxy (LY-556) of density 1.15 g/cm3 matrix and hardener (HY-951) of
density 0.98 g/cm3 were used to fabricate the composite. The weight ratio of
100:15 was used to mix epoxy and hardener respectively. In the present work, the
composite laminates were prepared with weights of 10, 20, and 30% of untreated
and sodium hydroxide treated Napier grass fibre strands with long fibre strands
(unidirectional) and short fibre strands (random orientation). Composites were
characterized using Scanning electron microscopy, Chemical resistance, Water
absorption and Tensile test. The effect of NaOH treatment of the fibres on the
mechanical properties of the resulted composites was also studied in this work. The
ASTM procedures were followed in the preparation and testing of the specimens.
The author also investigated the bonding between the matrix and the
reinforcement, for this the author recorded the scanning electron micrograms of
fractured samples. The NaOH treatment of the Napier grass fibre strands was found
to refine its mechanical properties.