Although carbon fiber materials are strong and lightweight, they cost too much. However, this situation is expected to change. Scientists from South Africa have discovered a cheaper alternative.
On July 29, it is reported that researchers at the University of Johannesburg discovered that some useless stalks of plantain can be made into carbon fiber by extraction. The product can replace traditional carbon fiber materials.
By a process called hydration degumming, the researchers separate the individual fibers in the structure of these stems. These fibers were then dipped in a 3% caustic soda solution for 4 hours, dried, and treated with high-frequency microwave radiation for 2 minutes. Finally, ethanol was used to prevent them from bunching.
After testing in the laboratory, the researchers found that the new combination is harder and stronger than the resin of the same size. Specifically, they have 31% tensile strength and 34% flexural strength. In addition, they also show better impact strength and thermal conductivity.
The researchers said that once the technology matures, this material can be used in fields like the vehicle industry, to reduce car body weight and improve fuel efficiency. Moreover, it will not corrode or rust like metal materials, and has better hardness and is easier to process.