The fracture toughness of bast fibre reinforced polyester composites: Part 1 Evaluation and analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research units

  • University of Wales


Hemp and jute fibre reinforced polyester composites were fabricated to various fibre volume fractions (Vf) up to 0.45. Laminates reinforced with a chopped strand mat (CSM) glass fibre were also manufactured. The tensile properties of these materials were evaluated. Fracture toughness was assessed, using linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) principles, under quasi-static loading conditions. At equivalent Vf (0.2) it was found that the fracture toughness (Klc) of the CSM glass fibre reinforced material was approximately 3 times greater than that of the natural fibre reinforced laminates and an order of magnitude greater than the unreinforced polymer alone. Critical strain energy release rates (Gc) and plastic zone radii were computed. The Gc of the natural fibre reinforced laminates was approximately an order of magnitude lower than that of the CSM reinforced material at the same Vf. It was hypothesised that the size of the crack-tip plastic zone influences the energy absorbing capacity of the material. By comparing the relative volumes of the plastic zones, implications regarding the toughening mechanisms operative in natural fibre reinforced composites have been made. The applicability of LEFM to characterise toughness in these materials is discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4669-4676
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 4661079