Alas, but the production of lightweight and durable carbon fiber while costing a pretty penny. Scientists from the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) under supervision of Professor Tien-Chen Jen offer a cheaper and reliable alternative – a new material in which carbon fibers are replaced with fibers extracted from banana palm trees.
To separate the fibers used special method of soaking in water, after which they are placed for four hours in 3 percent caustic soda solution, dried, treated for two minutes high-frequency microwave radiation, and then is dispersed (ground) to ethanol to prevent a thick.
As a result, processed fiber better contact with epoxy resin containing a small amount of carbon nanotubes. The best qualities of a mix consisting of one part of the fibers of banana and four parts resin with nanotubes, which accounted for only 1 % of the weight. The resulting mixture is loaded into the form and put under a press for 24 hours.
According to the results of mechanical laboratory tests revealed that the obtained composite material stiffer and stronger than “pure” resin – 31% tensile to 34 % in bending. Plus, the new material has higher impact resistance and conductivity.
Scientists hope that they created a composite based on banana eventually find application in the manufacture of lightweight and durable automotive parts.