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Researchers attend Alabama Composites Conference

Researchers attend Alabama Composites Conference

Professor Krishnan Kanny, director of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and chemistry lecturer, Vimla Paul attended the United States Alabama Composites Conference which focused on the use of structural composites in defence, power, energy, transportation and industry applications.
The five day conference which was held from 22-26 August coincided with the Biocomposites International Research Network’s (BIRN) workshop which was held in Birmingham.
Prof Kanny said: “The conference provided an opportunity for researchers to network, establishing long term global partnership with other scientists from different fields of engineering. It also looked at the potential of future research opportunities and development of current research on different aspects of the subatomic level of composites, nano-composites, and biocomposites which are material made from the reinforcement of natural fibre.

He said the natural fibre is biodegradable and environmentally friendly and can be used in various products; it is usually derived from plants or cellulose, the structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants. The conference also looked at emerging technology, manufacture, testing design and commercialization of products.

Prof Kanny and Paul delivered a paper presentation focused on biocompiosites. His paper titled, Effect of moisture on thermal and mechanical properties of sisal fibre reinforced epoxy polymer composites, focused on natural fibre utilization in composite materials which has seen steady growth in most industry sectors, particularly non structural and semi-structural applications. His research looks at how natural fibre, which is susceptible to moisture uptake and investigates the effect of moisture on the mechanical and thermal properties of sisal fibre / epoxy matrix composites.

Paul’s paper, Research and development of a novel bio-resin using banana sap looked at the production of resin using lactic acid, chitosan and banana sap. Lactic acid is grafted onto the amino group of the chitosan and the reaction of banana sap with the two reactants to form a resin. The resin is characterised using Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) for functional groups and thermal analysis for thermal stability.
She said the development of a bio-resin will have a profound impact on the environment as carbon emission will be minimized. “Once the banana fruit is harvested, the plant is left to degrade hence, the research focuses on using renewable resources. This waste material will be used as a starting material for the resin and the fibres from the plant are used as re-enforcement to produce a bio-degradable composite,” said Paul.

For more information on the research papers email vimlap@dut.ac.za or kannyk@dut.ac.za

– Karishma Ganpath

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