Mechanical Characterization of Gelatin-Flax Natural-Fiber Composites for Construction
This article concerns the development and characterization of a protein-based alternative to traditional fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites used in construction. In this work, gelatin-based resins were prepared at various gelatin-to-water (g/w) ratios. The effects of g/w ratio and curing time on resin mechanical properties were investigated. Using gelatin resins with a 30% g/w ratio, (i) gelatin-flax and (ii) gelatin-fiberglass composites were fabricated, and their mechanical properties were characterized and compared to both (iii) epoxy-flax and (iv) epoxy-fiberglass composites. Fracture surface morphologies were investigated using scanning electron microscopy. Results indicate that gelatin-flax composites exhibit similar mechanical properties compared to the epoxy-fiberglass composites and that FRP composites with fully hydrophobic or fully hydrophilic constituents have better tensile strengths than composites with a combination of hydrophobic and hydrophilic constituents. Based on this preliminary mechanical and physical property investigation, gelatin-based resins exhibit a marked potential to be used as biobased materials in the construction industry, especially in temporary structural retrofit and rehabilitation applications.
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