Development of natural HEMP fibre sheet mould composites (NF- SMC)
The use of natural fibres as reinforcement in polymer composites has generated much interest in recent years due to environmental legislation and improvements on natural fibre performance and process-abilities. This research investigated the use of natural hemp fibre as reinforcement for the possibility of producing fibre reinforced Sheet Moulding Compounds (SMC) as an alternative to glass fibres in the industrial applications ranging from building construction, automotive, to aerospace, where a good fire performance and mechanical properties are essential. This work shows that NFSMC achieved equivalent level of fire and mechanical properties that glass fibre SMC (GFSMC) has provided. Its Heat Release Rate (HRR) in the fire reaction tests reached 150 kWm-2 which is better than that of fire retardant GFSMC; tensile strength reached 44 MPa and Yang's modulus in excess of 14 GPa, which are as the same as the high performance polymeric GFSMC. This report was worked on two aspects of the NFSMC: the selections of raw materials, formulation and a suitable manufacturing system; and the material characterisation and functionality.