Mechanical recycling of high density polyethylene/flax fiber composites

Authors: Benoit, Nathalie
Advisor: Rodrigue, DenisGonzalez Nunez, Ruben
Abstract: This thesis focuses on the production, the mechanical recycling and the characterization of polymers and composites based on high density polyethylene (HDPE) and flax fibers. It aims to determine the materials potential towards long-term recycling and to evaluate the resulting loss of performance. The recycling is realized by closed-loop extrusion, and repeated up to 50 times, without any addition of new material, and without any consideration of the possible degradation and contamination undergone during the life-cycle of the products. In the first part, a literature review presents the state of the art concerning the mechanical recycling of thermoplastic composites. The various types of composites recycling are introduced, as well as the various works conducted on the recycling of thermoplastic composites reinforced with both natural and inorganic fillers. Finally, the various limitations to the composites recycling are presented and some solutions are suggested. During this review an important lack of knowledge on the long-term mechanical recycling of these composites is observed. In the second part of this work, the high density polyethylene is studied and recycled in order to know its properties and its behavior towards recycling, as well as to be used as a comparison basis for the further parts. The study of the mechanical, thermal, molecular and physical properties leads to the better understanding of the various degradation mechanisms induced by mechanical recycling. The results show a decrease of the yield stress and an important increase of the strain at break with recycling, indicating that chain scissions take place in the polymer during recycling. Most of the other properties remained stable, and confirmed the conservation of the polymer performances with recycling. In the last part of this work, high density polyethylene is used to produce two series of composites with 15% wt. of flax fiber, with and without maleic anhydride grafted polyethylene (MAPE) as a coupling agent. Similar characterizations as for the matrix are conducted on both composites as to evaluate the effect of the fibers in the polymer matrix. A complete analysis of the fiber distribution is also performed to observe the effect of mechanical recycling on the fiber dimensions. The mechanical analysis reveals that the fibers provides an efficient reinforcement to the matrix, and especially with coupling agent, but the properties at break decrease. Nevertheless, this effect decreases with recycling, while the elongation properties increase due to the fiber size reduction. The effect of the coupling agent disappears with recycling. However, most mechanical properties remain higher for the composites after recycling than for the neat matrix.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2017
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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