Ramie (Boehmeria nivea) fiber is one of several lignocellulosic fibers with superior strength, but the least investigated, particularly as reinforcement in strong, tough polymeric composites. This paper presents mechanical properties for polyester reinforced with aligned ramie fibers up to 30% by volume. It was found that adding 30 vol% of ramie fibers increases the flexural strength of polyester about three times (212 ± 12 MPa vs. 63 ± 7 MPa) and tensile strength by a factor of two (89 ± 9 MPa vs. 53 ± 3 MPa). Polyester-ramie fiber composites also displayed a significant improvement in toughness. The impact energy values, as measured by Charpy and Izod impact tests, increased nearly two orders of magnitude for 30 vol% ramie fiber composite as compared to neat polyester. Additionally, fractographic studies revealed reasonable wetting of fibers by the polyester resin, and FTIR analysis confirmed a hydrophilic nature of ramie fibers. In spite of weak adhesion between hydrophilic fibers and hydrophobic matrix, composites of improved strength and toughness were demonstrated in this study. Limited fiber-matrix adhesion was reflected in preferential longitudinal propagation of cracks along the fiber/polyester interfaces, indicating also that most of the fracture area is associated with the fiber surface.
Brazil is one of the world greatest aluminum producer and also comprises a large industrial sector dedicated to the production of alumina (Al2O3) by the traditional Bayer process. During this process an insoluble residue, known as red-mud, is generated and normally discarded. A possible use for the red mud is its incorporation into clay ceramics. Indeed, this has been a solution not only for the red mud but also for residues of different industrial segments. The common clay, like the kaolinite, versatility allows the incorporation of several types of residues. The red mud, in addition to compounds like silica and alumina that are compatible with clays, is also composed of iron, sodium, calcium and other elements that confer important characteristics to ceramic products. Thus, the present work investigated the incorporation of up 60 wt% of distinct red muds, one as processed, in natura, and the other calcined at 900 °C, into clay ceramics. Both red muds act as inert materials without improving the pure clay ceramic properties.