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Long coir and glass fiber reinforced polypropylene hybrid composites prepared via wet-laid technique

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Composites Part C: Open Access
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Natural fiber composites offer an advantage in terms of weight saving for many automotive applications; however, many natural fiber composites lack properties to justify substitution for synthetic composites. Hybridizing the natural fiber composites by adding a fraction of synthetic fibers is an innovative approach to provide a balance between composite's performance and weight savings. In this study, coir fiber (40 wt%)-reinforced polypropylene (PP) composites were hybridized by substituting a fraction of coir fiber with glass fiber (0–30 wt%). The composites were prepared using a novel wet-laid technique followed by compression molding, where the fiber length is preserved. The composites prepared by hybridizing PP/coir fibers with glass fibers were light in weight (6–20% lighter compared to 40 wt% glass fiber reinforced PP) with significantly enhanced tensile (strength – 49–182%, modulus – 54–130%), flexural (strength – 41–104%, modulus – 64–193%), and impact properties (157 - 474%) compared to 40 wt% coir fiber reinforced PP composites. Furthermore, the addition of glass fiber (10–30 wt%) to coir fiber reduced the water-absorbing tendency (by 18–74%) of PP/coir fiber composites. All in all, this work has potential applications in automotive, mass transit, and truck applications where natural fiber composites are being investigated as alternatives to metal and/or fully synthetic composites.