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Title: Hybrid hemp/glass fiber reinforced high-temperature shape memory photopolymer with mechanical and flame-retardant analysis

Cultivated natural fibers have a huge possibility for green and sustainable reinforcement for polymers, but their limited load-bearing ability and flammability prevent them from wide applications in composites. According to the beam theory, normal stress is the maximum at the outermost layers but zero at the mid-plane under bending (with (non)linear strain distribution). Shear stress is the maximum at the mid-plane but manageable for most polymers. Accordingly, a laminated composite made of hybrid fiber-reinforced shape memory photopolymer was developed, incorporating strong synthetic glass fibers over a weak core of natural hemp fibers. Even with a significant proportion of natural hemp fibers, the mechanical properties of the hybrid composites were close to those reinforced solely with glass fibers. The composites exhibited good shape memory properties, with at least 52% shape fixity ratio and 71% shape recovery ratio, and 24 MPa recovery stress. After 40 s burning, a hybrid composite still maintained 83.53% of its load carrying capacity. Therefore, in addition to largely maintaining the load carrying capacity through the hybrid reinforcement design, the use of shape memory photopolymer endowed a couple of new functionalities to the composites: the plastically deformed laminated composite beam can largely return to its original shape due to the shape memory effect of the polymer matrix, and the flame retardancy of the polymer matrix makes the flammable hemp fiber survive the fire hazard. The findings of this study present exciting prospects for utilizing low-strength and flammable natural fibers in multifunctional load-bearing composites that possess both flame retardancy and shape memory properties.

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Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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