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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science Major: Textiles, Clothing & Design Under the Supervision of Professor Yiqi Yang Lincoln, NE May, 2010 Copyright(c) 2010 Yi Zou


Biological materials (wheat straws (WS), switchgrass stems (SG) and hop bines (HB)), were used as reinforcing materials to make lightweight composites with polypropylene (PP) webs. The long WS, SG and HB (length up to 10 cm) with simple cut or split and without chemical treatment, were used directly in the composites. Utilizing biological materials for composites not only increases the values of wheat, switchgrass and hop crops, but also provides green, sustainable and biodegradable materials for the composites industry. Lightweight composites are preferred, especially for automotive applications due to the potential saving in energy. In this research, the effects of manufacturing parameters, such as concentrations, lengths, widths and split configurations of reinforcing materials, on the properties of composites have been studied. Compared with the jute-PP composites of the same density (0.47 g/cm3), composites reinforced by biological materials showed generally better properties. The composites reinforced by biological materials with optimized properties have the potential to be used for industrial applications such as the support layers in automotive interiors, office panels and ceiling tiles.

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