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Preparation and characterisation of wheat straw/polystyrene (PS) composite

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to present a manufacturing process for wheat straw/polystyrene (PS) composite that can be expected to be a significant contribution to making effective use of agricultural residues, protecting the environment and water resources, resolving conflicts among the needs of humans, the resource base, and the environment, and establishing a society based on sustainable development. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Wheat straw and recycled PS were mixed at an ambient temperature and then hot-pressed to prepare wheat straw/recycled PS composite, and the optimal processing factors for preparing the composite were investigated. Findings ‐ It was found that adding PS can reduce the quantity of diphenyl methane diisocyanate (MDI) needed and the manufacturing cost of the wheat straw/PS composite. The optimal process parameters are as follows: hot-pressing cycle time ‐ 7?min; temperature ‐ 190°C, PS percentage ‐ 35 per cent; coupling-agent content ‐ 3.5 per cent; and density ‐ 0.60 or 0.65?g/cm3. Research limitations/implications ‐ PS is a nonpolar material and wheat straw is a polar material, which makes them difficult to bond together. MDI had been found to be an effective coupling agent to improve bond strength, but was expensive. Practical implications ‐ The wheat straw/PS composite can be used for interior decoration and furniture manufacture. In the future, it could also be used in construction if its performance is improved. Originality/value ‐ Wheat straw particleboard can be made with wheat straw and recycled PS, and the mechanical properties of the board meet the Chinese National Standard.
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Keywords: China; Composite materials; Polystyrene; Recycling; Wheat

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 22, 2009

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