Evaluation of Mechanical and Tribological Properties of Corn Cob-Reinforced Epoxy-Based Composites-Theoretical and Experimental Study

Polymers (Basel). 2021 Dec 15;13(24):4407. doi: 10.3390/polym13244407.

ABSTRACT

Epoxy is considered to be the most popular polymer and is widely used in various engineering applications. However, environmental considerations require natural materials-based epoxy. This necessity results in further utilization of natural materials as a natural reinforcement for different types of composites. Corn cob is an example of a natural material that can be considered as an agricultural waste. The objective of the present work is to improve the economic feasibility of corn cob by converting the original corn cob material into powder to be utilized in reinforcing epoxy-based composites. In the experiment, the corn cob was crushed and ground using a grain miller before it was characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The corn cob powder was added to the epoxy with different weight fractions (2, 4, 6, 8, 10 wt%). In order to prevent corn cob powder agglomeration and ensure homogeneous distribution of the reinforcement inside the epoxy, the ultrasonic technique and a mechanical stirrer were used. Then, the composite’s chemical compositions were evaluated using X-ray diffraction (XRD). The mechanical experiments showed an improvement in the Young’s modulus and compressive yield strength of the epoxy composites, increasing corn cob up to 8 wt% by 21.26% and 22.22%, respectively. Furthermore, tribological tests revealed that reinforcing epoxy with 8 wt% corn cob can decrease the coefficient of friction by 35% and increase wear resistance by 4.8%. A finite element model for the frictional process was constructed to identify different contact stresses and evaluate the load-carrying capacity of the epoxy composites. The finite element model showed agreement with the experimental results. An epoxy containing 8 wt% corn cob demonstrated the optimal mechanical and tribological properties. The rubbed surfaces were investigated by SEM to identify the wear mechanism of different composites.

PMID:34960957 | PMC:PMC8708124 | DOI:10.3390/polym13244407

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