Bio-Composites: Current Status and Future Trends

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From cleaner production to energy efficiency, biodegradable products to .... Bio propylene Glycol (Bio-PG) Bio-based by fermentation or chemical purification. ... Bio-based succinic acid by fermentation plus petrochemical terephthalic acid.

Bio-Composites: Current Status and Future Trends S A Ariadurai Department of Textile and Apparel Technology, Faculty of Engineering Technology Open University of Sri Lanka Nawala, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka Abstract From cleaner production to energy efficiency, biodegradable products to recycling, sustainable development is the topic that is demanding global attention. In this context, bio-plastics and bio-composites are gaining ground as the materials for the future. The main reasons for the development of this industry are its attraction with reference to the cost and the weight of the materials produced. Further, bio-composites are ecologically sustainable, and require low energy for production. They are also easier to dispose off at the end of the product life cycle. Biocomposites are made from bio-based polymers and resins. These polymers and resins are either directly taken from plants or are derived from plant based feedstock by various processing techniques. The two major areas of applications of bio-composites are construction and automotive industry. They are also used in bio-medical engineering and various other engineering applications. This paper discusses the various raw materials used in the manufacture of bio-composites, applications of bio-composites in engineering, their advantages and challenges. It also looks at the current status of the bio-composite industry and its future trends.

Introduction In recent years scientists and industrialists are increasingly looking at the use of bio- or renewable carbon, as opposed to petro-carbon for manufacturing, thus moving towards a reduced carbon footprint. Carbon is the major basic element that is the building block of polymeric materials, fuels and even life itself. However, managing the carbon cycle has become the burning issue of today. There is increasing concerns over the growing man-made CO2 emissions released into the environment with no offsetting fixation and removal of the released CO2. Reducing our carbon footprint and addressing the carbon cycle imbalance is the major challenge facing us. In this context, the use of annually renewable bio feedstocks for manufacture of plastics and products offers an intrinsic zero or neutral carbon footprint value proposition [Narayan, 2006]. The goal of using bio-plastics and bio-composites is to use bio-based materials containing maximum possible amount of renewable biomass based derivatives to secure a sustainable future. Most of these bio-based materials are used in technical applications. Bio-based materials being environment friendly, contribute for sustainable development.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs [Hauff, 2007]. It contains within it two key concepts: •

concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and



idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.

Contents of this paper contribute to sustainable development, in the context of environment, with reference to reduced carbon footprint by use of bio based materials. Societal benefits from a shift to bio-based materials could be enormous. Bio-based materials have the potential to produce fewer greenhouse gases, require less energy, and produce fewer toxic pollutants over their lifecycle than products made from fossil fuels. They may also be recyclable or composted (depending on the biomaterial and how it is produced), reducing waste streams to already crowded landfills or to incinerators. 1

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As the cost of petroleum increases, making products with bio-based materials is increasingly attractive. Increased demand for agricultural and forest-based feed-stocks also offers new resourcebased economic development opportunities for farmers and struggling rural communities and manufacturing sectors. However, many of these advantages are not inherent in the material. They all depend on ensuring that bio-based products meet minimal standards for the safe production, use, and end-of-life disposition. Making the transition from a petroleum-based to a bio-based economy also gives us an opportunity for product standards to ensure that impacts on the environment, health, and society are included. Research and development on various bio-based materials are an emerging area of research, focusing on a low-carbon economy. The direction of research and development is in the manufacture of bio-plastics, bio-fibres, bio-composites and other biomaterials as substitutes for those that are traditionally made from petroleum resources. In this context, researchers and industries are looking at manufacturing car parts to consumer products, and packaging materials to green building products, through revolutionary use of agricultural products and other bio-renewable resources. This paper reports the findings of a literature review that was done as part of a research to use coir as a reinforcing fibre in bio-composites. This is a part of an ongoing project that has been undertaken in Sri Lanka. Thus this paper gives an overview of the current status and the future trends of the bio-composites industry, so as to stimulate a discussion between the researchers, manufacturers and practitioners in Pakistan, to look at biocomposites as an alternate product in various engineering applications.

What are Bio-composites? A composite is a structural material that consists of two or more combined constituents that are combined at a macroscopic level and are not soluble in each other [Kaw, 2005]. It consists of two phases: a reinforcing phase and a matrix phase.

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The reinforcing phase, which can be in the form of fibres, sheets, or particles are embedded in the matrix phase. The reinforcing material and the matrix material can be metal, ceramic, or polymer. Typically, reinforcing materials are strong with low densities while the matrix is usually a ductile, or tough, material. Bio-composites are special group of composite materials which comprise one or more phase(s) from a biological origin [Fowler et. al, 2006]. The reinforcing phase in most cases are derived from plant fibres in crops such as cotton, flax or hemp, or from recycled wood, waste paper, crop processing by products or regenerated cellulose fibres such as viscose / rayon. The matrix phase within a bio-composite may often take the form of a natural polymer, possibly derived from vegetable oils or starches. More commonly, however, synthetic fossil derived polymers (e.g., ‘virgin’ or recycled thermoplastics) act as the matrices. Bio-based Polymers for Bio-composites The bio-based polymers that are used in biocomposites can be divided into three groups [USDA, 2008]. 1. Biopolymers 2. Biologically derived polymers 3. Copolymers Biopolymers are naturally occurring polymers such as starch, cellulose, protein, cotton fibres, wool, silk, and rayon (formed from cellulose). Biologically derived polymers are derived from bio-based feedstock, usually by fermentation. For example, polylactic acid (PLA) is produced from glucose fermentation by an engineered strain of E. coli. Copolymers are those polymers produced using a combination of biological and synthetic routes. Table 1 presents the various types of biobased polymers. Based on the above classification of bio-based polymers, all natural fibres fall into the category of biopolymers. The natural fibres which are widely used in bio-composites are cotton, kapok, milkweed, coir, hemp. flax, jute, ramie, kenaf pineapple, abaca, sisal, and henequen, stalks of wheat, maize, barley, rye, rice, and oat, grass varieties from bamboo, bagasse, esparto, sabie, and phragmite, and wood fibres derived from hard and soft wood, and recycled wood.

Bio-composites: Present Status and Future Trends – SA Ariadurai

Table 1: Overview of Important Groups and Types of bio-based polymers [Source: USDA, 2008]

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Table 2 gives some of the popular bio-derived polymers that are used in the manufacture of biocomposites along with a description and their sources. There are few co-polymers that are produced by the combination of biological and synthetic routes that are used in the production of bio-composites. These co-polymers are listed in Table 3. The matrix phase of the fibre based composite is usually a resin. For the manufacture of biocomposites a few bio-based resins have been produced, which are commercially available. Table 4 gives a list of such bio-resins that are used in the bi-composite industry.

Application Areas of Bio-composites Bio-composites and bio-plastics are used in a wide variety of products, from advanced spacecraft to sporting goods to joint implants. In this paper the following applications are discussed. •

Packaging



Civil engineering



Bio-medical



Automotive



General engineering

Packaging Applications Among the total plastics usage, packaging occupies the top position with 41%, of which about 20% is used in food industry. Since most of the packaging materials are made up of nonrenewable and non-degradable synthetic plastics, packaging waste also occupies the top position in landfills [Pilla, 2009]. Also, there have been many health related issues for using synthetic polymers for packaging, especially in food division. This has mandated the use of bio-based and biodegradable or compostable materials in the packaging sector. Development of packaging materials based on bionano-composites for food and other food contact surfaces is expected to grow in the next decade with the current focus on exploring alternatives to petroleum and emphasis on reducing environmental impact [Soulestin et.al, 2011]. 4

Based on the number of usage cycles, packing materials could be classified as single-use application or multiple-use application. In this paper only food-packaging example is discussed. Food packages are normally categorized by layer or function as primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary packaging is the material that first envelops the food and holds it. This usually is the smallest unit of distribution or use and is the package which is in direct contact with the contents. Secondary packaging is outside the primary packaging, perhaps used to group primary packages together. Tertiary packaging is used for bulk handling, warehouse storage and transport shipping. In primary food packaging, the packaging material is in direct contact with the food. The functions of primary packaging are protection and safety of foods. The secondary packaging is used physical protection of the product. It also provides easy handling during storage / distribution and safety against mechanical damage. Tertiary packaging incorporates the secondary packages in a final transportation package system. The purpose of this packaging is to protect the product from mechanical damage, weather conditions, etc. Therefore, when materials are selected for the various packaging purposes, the functions of these packaging should be kept in mind and appropriate materials with suitable properties to provide these functions should be selected. In spite of the unique features of bio-plastics, it cannot be said that they will dominate the packaging sector in the current domain. This is due to not-so superior properties of bio-plastics compared to synthetics. However, the inferiorities could be eliminated by modifying the formulation design to suit the target application. For instance, PLA is a brittle polymer and hence could not be aptly used for thermoforming. However when blended with processing aids and impact modifiers such as starch, Ecoflex etc, toughness can be imparted to PLA, making it suitable for such applications [Pilla, 2011]. Thus unique materials designs are needed that will impart the best possible properties for bio-plastics. Much research has already been in place to address these kinds of issues. Table 5 shows a list of commercially available biobased food packaging materials.

Bio-composites: Present Status and Future Trends – SA Ariadurai

Table 2: Bio-derived polymers used in the manufacture of bio-composites [Source: Wolf et al., 2005] Name

Description [source]

Polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHA

Linear polyesters produced in nature by bacterial fermentation of sugar and lipids [corn / potato]

Poly(butylene Succinate) (PBS)

Bio-succinic acid is combined with 1,4 - butanediol (BDO) to create highperforming green polybutylene succinicate (PBS), a polyester [corn]

Polylactic acid or Polylactide (PLA)

A thermoplastic aliphatic polyester [corn starch, tapioca roots, starch, sugarcane]

Bio ethylene Glycol (Bio-EG)

Bio-based by fermentation or chemical purification. Used in production of polyester [corn, sugarcane, wheat]

Bio propylene Glycol (Bio-PG)

Bio-based by fermentation or chemical purification. Used in functional fluids (e.g., anti-freeze), foods / drugs / cosmetics, liquid detergents, plasticizers, paints and coatings, tobacco humectants, pet foods, etc. & unsaturated polyesters [corn, wheat, sugarcane]

Table 3: Co-polymers used in the manufacture of bio-composites [Source: Wolf et al., 2005] Name

Description [source]

Nylon 69

Bio-based monomer obtained from a conventional chemical transformation from oleic acid via azelaic (di)acid

Polytrimethyleneterephthalate (PTT)

Bio-based 1,3-propanediol by fermentation plus petrochemical terephthalic acid (or DMT) [corn]

Polybutyleneterephthalate (PBT)

Bio-based 1,4-butanediol by fermentation plus petrochemical terephthalic Acid [corn]

Polybutylene succinate terephthalate (PBST)

Bio-based succinic acid by fermentation plus petrochemical terephthalic acid (or DMT) [corn]

Table 4: Bio-resins used in the manufacture of bio-composites [Source: Masoodi and Pillai, 2011] Resin Name

Commercial Name

Type of Resin

Resin Base

AESO

Ebecryl 860

Thermoset

Soy-bean oil

Polylactic Acid

PLA

Thermoplastic

Lactic acid

Ingeo

Thermoplastic

Corn

Vikoflex 7170

Thermoset

Soy-bean oil

Sorona EP

Thermoplastic

Corn

Super Sap 100 epoxy

Thermoset

Pine & vegetable oils

Polyester bio-resin

Envirez 5000

Thermoset

Soy

Epoxidized soy-bean oil

Vikoflex 7170

Thermoset

Soy-bean oil

Epoxidized linseed oil

Vikoflex 7190

Thermoset

Lineseed oil

Epoxidized soy-bean oil

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Table 5: Bio-products for food packaging [Source: Lillian Liu, 2006]

Figure 1: Bamboo bio-composite bridge [Source: Mason Inman, New Scientist – 2007]

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Civil Engineering Applications Civil engineering, especially building and construction materials utilize about 23% of the world's total plastic usage [Pilla, 2011]. Also, many of these materials are energy intensive to produce. Besides packaging, the construction and demolition debris constitute a large percentage of landfill waste. These practices make the construction materials to occupy a large carbon footprint in the ecosystem. Thus it is important to look for opportunities that practice sustainable approaches for providing an ecological balance. The use of bio-plastics and bio-composites would provide such opportunities. Though bio-plastics provide a sustainable alternative for building and construction materials, the nature of application necessitates the use of bio-composites owing to their superior strength properties. Thus, biocomposites in addition to being environmentfriendly, offer many advantages such as lightweight, low material costs, high specific properties [Mohanty et. al., 2000; Brouwer, 2000]. Some of the building and construction applications where bio-composites are potentially applied include formwork, scaffolding, decking, railing, fencing, framing, walls and wallboard, window frames, doors, flooring, decorative panelling, cubicle walls and ceiling panels. Additionally foamed bio-composites are investigated for housing insulation applications [Pilla, 2009]. Other than these, major area where bio-composites find critical application is in building of temporary housing. Generally, temporary housings, made from wood plastic composites, are set-up whenever a major catastrophe occurs such as earthquake, hurricane etc. During such times, temporary rehabilitation centres are built to provide shelter for people who lost their homes. Once the situation recovers to normalcy, the temporary housings are dismantled and the waste is dumped in landfills. Thus, to eliminate this type of landfill waste, such application necessitates the use of bio-composites that can potentially be composted after their service life. In spite of the aforementioned advantages that biocomposites offer, there exist few critical issues in their design i.e. hydrophilicity of natural fibres and weak interfacial bonding. Hydrophilicity of natural fibres will result in uptake of water / moisture

during the service-life of the composite thereby making it structurally weak. A weak interface creates voids which will also add to the failure of the structure. Thus it is important to do an interfacial engineering of the fibres that will not only eliminate the hydrophilicty of the fibre but also make it bond with the hydrophobic polymer, perfectly. As such, interfacial engineering provides a strong interface i.e. perfect bonding between the fibres and polymers thereby leveraging for efficient stress transfer between the polymer and the fibre and enhancing the strength properties of composites, significantly. These 'engineered' biocomposites possess high stiffness and strength-toweight ratios making them comparable to traditional composites at much lower cost. Use of natural fibres as reinforcement in a cement matrix has also been practiced for making low-cost building materials such as panels, claddings, roofing sheets and tiles, slabs, and beams. Sisal and coir are two of the most studied fibres, but bamboo, jute, hemp, reeds, and grasses have also been studied for making fibre concrete and sheeting materials [Swamy, 1988]. Natural fibre composites have special relevance to developing countries in view of their low cost, savings in energy, and applications as substitute materials. Problems related to natural fibres, such as inconsistency in product performance due to fibre variability, non-availability in the moulding forms of reinforcements, use of fibre in a partially prepared state, and poor fibre-matrix interface, need to be carefully tackled to achieve industrial exploitation. Application developments of natural fibre composites as alternate building materials must be thoroughly studied for their durability and cost-effectiveness in order to obtain consistent product performance under service conditions [Singh & Gupta, 2005]. The bio-composites used in civil engineering applications can be divided into two groups depending on the functions they perform. They are structural bio-composites and non-structural biocomposites. Structural bio-composites are required to carry load in use, whereas the non-structural bio-composites are not required to carry a load in use. Figure 1 illustrates number of examples of structural bio-composites and Figure 2 examples of non-structural bio-composites. Figure 3 illustrates the emerging natural fibre composites in construction. 7

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Figure 2a: Jute – sisal doors [Source: Singh & Gupta, 2005]

Figure 2b: Jute door frames [Source: Singh & Gupta, 2005]

Figure 2c: Sisal – polyester roofing [Source: Singh & Gupta, 2005]

Figure 2d: Sisal / Jute / Coir – polyester panels [Source: Singh & Gupta, 2005] 8

Bio-composites: Present Status and Future Trends – SA Ariadurai

Figure 3: Emerging natural fibre composites in construction [Source: Opportunities in Natural Fibre Composites, 2011]

Bio-Medical Engineering Applications With the advent of innovations in the field of medicine, new materials are being explored for usage into the broad spectrum of bio-medical applications such as implants, tissue engineering, drug delivery etc. In this context, bio-plastics and bio-composites play vital role since they are biobased, biodegradable and importantly biocompatible, which is the most critical aspect for bio-medical applications. In fact the bio-materials that are used in human body must be compatible with the tissue and other related organs that they are found or fitted into. Also, the prime reason for the biomaterials to biodegrade inside the body is to eliminate any further surgical or medical intervention for the removal of the part that was made from the biomaterial [Pilla, 2011]. Though bio-plastics either independently or as a blend offer feasible solutions for bio-medical industry, bio-composites, especially the ones where bio-plastics are impregnated with hydroxyapatite (HAP), are finding suitable application in implant making and/or tissue engineering. However, the emergence of new generation of hybrid nano-structured materials has not only opened a new route to make biomaterials but also widened the range of applications in biomedical industry [Pilla, 2011].

One of the prominent applications of bio-nanocomposites in bio-medical field is in the regeneration of damaged tissues and in implants [Darder, 2007]. In addition to being biocompatible and bio-degradabe, bio-nano-composites should provide mechanical stability to avoid collapse of the implant and possess open-pore structure (macro-porosity) for efficient transportation of nutrients and metabolic wastes [Thomas et.al, 2006; Widmer & Mikso, 1998]. Some of the common biopolymers used for this application are PLA, chitin and cellulose. Due to the versatility in bio-plastics and nanoparticles and the synergy that exists between them, the field materials and life sciences are envisaged to see more explorations in biomaterials. Especially, the multi-functionality of bio-nanocomposites will open up new research arenas with plentiful of opportunities for great innovations. These will definitely help to revolutionize the field of bio-medical engineering [Pila, 2011]. Other critical divisions of bio-medical engineering where bio-plastics and/or bio-composites are applied include cancer therapy and diagnosis, gene vectors, biosensors and dental applications such as dental implants. Table 6 lists some of the commercially available bio-composite implants. 9

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Table 6: Commercially available bio-composite impalnts [Source: Kin-tak Lau, 2010]

Polymer

Abbreviation

Purpose

Poly(glycolode)

PGA

3D polymer scaffolds for cell transplantation

Poly(lactic acid)

PLA

3D polymer scaffolds for cell transplantation

Poly(L-lactide)

L-PLA

Fracture fixation, suture anchor, ACL reconstruction, rotator cuff repair, meniscus repair

Poly(D,L-lactide)

D,L-PLA

Fracture fixation, ACL repair, suture anchor

Automotive Applications In 1941 Henry Ford introduced his company’s allplastic-body car concept. The car featured 70% cellulose fibres in a phenolic resin matrix extended with soybean meal - a by-product of the soybean oil extraction process [Composite technology, 2008]. However, this endeavour did not become popular as pertro-chemicals were available in plenty and at a cheaper price.



Reduction in cost: 25-50% cheaper than glass fibre composites



Reduction in weight: Four acrylo-nitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) car door panels weigh 9 kg, whereas the same panels based on natural fibres weigh 5 kg for equivalent mechanical properties

However today, things are changing and polymer materials represent approximately 20 weight percent of the total car, (100 to 150 kg). Further, typical modern vehicles are made up of about 15,000 parts, of which approximately 600 are made of polymeric materials. Main classes of automotive applications for polymers are interior trims (47-50%), external parts (29-35%), structural parts and fuel systems (13%), and under-the-hood applications (12-15%). The major driving forces for growing demand of composites in automotive applications include



Light weight: Natural fibres are less than half the density of glass fibres, resulting in high specific strength and stiffness and hence low component weight



Safer: Safer crash behaviour in accident tests, particularly in relation to high stability and an absence of splintering



Good acoustic properties due to hollow cellular structure



Good thermal insulation properties



Need of car weight reduction for limiting the fuel consumption





Production gains

Easier to cut and nonabrasive to processing equipment - Glass fibres tend to blunt the tools, however, using natural fibres the life of equipment is prolonged



Increasing design flexibility





Easier assembling / dismantling integration of parts and systems

Equivalent strength values to glass fibre composites



Exhibit excellent formability as a result deep mouldings can be produced



Natural fibres are superior to glass fibres from a health standpoint. When natural fibres are used dermal irritation or respiratory problems associated with glass fibres for the operator do not occur



Good availability and abundant worldwide

and

Table 7 gives the details of vehicle manufacturers and use of natural fibres in their vehicles while Table 8 gives the typical natural fibres used in the American automotive markets along with polypropylene. Following are some of the benefits of using natural fibre composites in automotive industry. 10

Bio-composites: Present Status and Future Trends – SA Ariadurai

Table 7: Vehicle manufacturers and use of natural fibre composites [Source: Suddell and Evans, 2005]

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Table 8: Typical natural fibres used in the American Automotive markets along with polypropylene [Source: Suddell, 2003]

Even though there are a number of benefits of biocomposites, the main attractions of natural fibres against the synthetic fibres are the cost and weight factors. In addition to these, natural fibres have considerable environmental benefits in ecological sustainability, low energy requirements for production, end of life disposal, and carbon dioxide neutrality. However, use of natural fibres also has a number of disadvantages. Following are some of the challenges that are faced by the use of natural fibre composites. •

Concerns over fibre consistency/quality



Low impact strength (high concentration of fibre defects)



UV resistance – not better than plastics



Fibre degradation during processing



Fibre orientation and distribution



Problem of stocking raw material for extended time leading to possibility of degradation, biological attack of fungi and mildew and foul odour development



Fibres are hydrophilic resulting in issues of compatibility with polymers: fibre-matrix interface and fibre dispersion challenges; and sensitive to humidity

However, some of these drawbacks could be overcome by resorting to treating the fibres with suitable agents, compatibilization and the use of available textile technologies. 12

Figure 4 illustrates the emerging trend in natural fibre composites in automotive industry.

Future Trends Currently the global polymer market is estimated to be 250 billion US dollars. It is predicted that this would reach a figure of 450 billion US dollars by 2025. On the other hand bio-based share of the polymer market which is currently 0.1% is expected to reach a figure between 10 to 20% by 2025 [USDA, 2008]. It is said that in future the maximum substitution potential for bio-composites would be about 33% of total polymer production. However diminishing supplies and higher prices for petroleum feedstocks could elevate this share further up [USDA, 2008]. Figure 5 illustrates the market trends for naturally reinforced plastic composites between 2004 and 2014, while Figure 6 illustrates the market for natural fibre composites for the same period. Figure 7 illustrates the estimated global production capacity of bio-plastics in 2016 by region and Figure 8 estimated global production capacity of bio-plastics in 2016 by type. Some of the plants and crops from which the natural fibre based composites are produced include corn, soybean, potato, cotton, jute, coir, flax, kenaf, hemp, sisal, bamboo, wheat, sugarcane, sunflower, linseed, bamboo, and pine.

Bio-composites: Present Status and Future Trends – SA Ariadurai

Figure 4: Emerging natural fibre composites in automotive industry [Source: Opportunities in Natural Fibre Composites, 2011]

Figure 5: Market for Naturally Reinforced Plastic Composites [Source: Asta Eder, 2007]

Figure 6: Market for Natural fibre Composites [Source: Asta Eder, 2007] 13

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Australia North America Europe

Asia South America

Figure 7: Estimated Global Production Capacity of Bio-plastics in 2016 by region [Source: European Bio-plastics, 2012]

Figure 8: Estimated Global Production Capacity of Bio-plastics in 2016 by type [Source: European Bio-plastics, 2012] Pakistan has the potential to exploit the natural fibre based bio-composite market as it already ranks eighth worldwide in farm output. Further, it is the fourth largest producer of cotton, fifth largest producer of sugarcane, seventh largest producer of potato and wheat. It also ranks fourteenth in sunflower, seventeenth in jute and twenty-third in corn production [FAO, 2010]. Therefore, researchers, agriculturist, textile technologists, chemical technologist, manufacturers, and end-users should combine their efforts to exploit the ever increasing bio-composite market sector, thereby project Pakistan as a major activist in the bio-composite industry. 14

Conclusions Bio-composites industry is in a position to tap the almost abundant supply of non-food crops and biorenewable resources as its raw materials. The expanding market for bio-composites is providing a major driver for the development of new applications. With the advancement in the technological front various different processing options are also coming to the fore. If all of these resources are integrated together it would be feasible to arrive at optimum combinations of natural fibres and matrices at financially viable prices. As a result, the bio-composites industry is likely to have a period of sustained growth.

Bio-composites: Present Status and Future Trends – SA Ariadurai

On the other hand, as the major attraction for biocomposites is in terms of sustainable development in the environment front and cost saving, it is necessary to emphasize on these aspects so as to achieve a strong commercial case for these materials. The use of natural fibres in the bio-composites industrial applications has increased significantly over the last decade and is expected to increase further. This recent surge in use of natural fibres for bio-composites is driven by an increase commitment to look for polymer materials that are not reliant on crude oil; seeking lighter weight materials which can reduce carbon emissions by reducing vehicle weight; seeking natural insulation materials to improve energy efficiency of buildings; seeking carbon sinks such as forests to lock up carbon dioxide; and seeking recyclable or compostable materials which can reduce the landfill crisis. Further, due to increased awareness among the consumers on the need to recycling and the impact that materials have on the environment have also played a key role in the use of natural fibres in bio-composites. The question posed by Henry Ford in 1941, is now increasingly becoming relevant in the current context: Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?

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5th International Technical Textiles Conference – November 2012

Lucintel, Opportunities in Natural Fibre Composites, Lucintel Brief, Las Colinas: USA 2011. Masoodi, Reza and Pillai, Krishna M., Modeling the Processing of Natural Fiber Composites Made Using Liquid Composite Molding, Srikanth Pilla (ed.) Handbook of Bioplastics and Biocomposites Engineering Applications, (43-74) John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey, 2011 Michigan State University Product Centre for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Advancing the Bio-economy: Overview of Michigan’s Progress, Report on the Status of Michigan’s Bio-economy: Progress and Evolving Potential, 2010 Mohanty, A. K., Misra, M and Hinrichsen, G., Macromolecular Materials and Engineering, Vol.276/277, p. 1-24, 2000 Narayan, Ramani., Bio-based and Biodegradable Polymer Materials: Rationale, Drivers, and Technology Exemplars; ACS (an American Chemical Society publication) Symposium, 939 (18), 282, 2006; Pilla, S, Processing and Characterization of Novel Biobased and Biodegradable Materials, PhD Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 2009. Pilla, Srikanth., Handbook of Bio-plastics and Biocomposites in Engineering Applications, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey, 2011 Polymer Preprints, American Chemical Society, Division of Polymer Chemistry, 46(1), 319-320, 2005 Singh, Brajeshwar, and Gupta, Manorama., Natural Fibre Composites for Building Applications, Natural Fibres, Biopolymers, and Bio-composites Edited by Amar K. Mohanty, Manjusri Misra and Lawrence T. Drzal, Taylor & Francis, 2005 Soulestin, J., Prashantha, K., Lacrampe, M. F. and Krawczak, P., Bio-plastics Based Nanocomposites for Packaging Applications Suddel, B. C., Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Joint meeting, Slavador, Brazil, July 2003 Suddell, B. C., and Evans, W. J., Natural Fibre Composites in Automotive Applications in Natural Fibres in Biopolymers & Their Bio-Composites., 16

Editors A. K. Mohanty, M. Misra and L. T. Drzal, CRC Press 231-259, 2005 Swamy, R.N., Ed., Natural Fiber Reinforced Cement and Concrete, Vol. 1, Concrete Technology and Design, Blackle, London, 1988. Thomas, V., Dean, D. R., and Vohra,Y. K., Current Nanoscience, Vol. 2, p. 155, 2006. Ton-That, M.T and Denault, J., Development of Composites Based on Natural Fibres, The Institute of Textile Science, Ottawa, 2007 USDA, U.S. Bio-based Products Market Potential and Projections Through 2025, 2008 Voegele, Erin., European Bio-plastics releases 2016 market forecast, Biomass Magazine, BBI International, Grand Forks, North Dakota, 2012 Widmer, M. S., and Mikos, A. G., "Fabrication of biodegradable polymer scaffolds," in C.W. Patrick, Jr., A. G. Mikos, and L. V. Mclntire, eds., Frontiers in Tissue Engineering, Elsevier, Oxford, pp. 107, 1998. Wolf, Oliver., Crank, Manuela., Patel, Martin., Marscheider-Weidemann, Frank., Schleich, Joachim., Hüsing, Bärbel., and Angerer, Gerhard., Techno-economic Feasibility of Large-scale Production of Bio-based Polymers in Europe, Technical Report EUR 22103 EN, December 2005

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