Sustainable Composite Materials
Exploitation of Plant Resourced Materials for
The past fifteen years have witnessed a tremendous
interest in the search for alternative to fossil
The search has been motivated by the realisation that fossil reserves are finite, and their use poses serious environmental impact.
The search for the alternative non fossil origin materials has resulted in the exploitation of plant- based materials which offer potentially zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) is phenolic based natural oil extracted from cashew nut processing plants.
The oil consist of four monomeric components each differing in side chain saturation.
Polymerisation of the crude CNSL is accomplished in two stages resulting in either resol or novolak type resins.
CNSL can be polymerised in acidic and alkaline media to produce neat cast components or mixed with plant fibres to produce composites that exhibit properties similar to those of fossil-based polymers reinforced with glass fibres.
The development of plant resourced materials into industrial products can contribute to a healthy ecosystem while their low cost and high performance fulfils the economic interest of industries.
Dr Leonard Mwaikambo is a Senior Lecturer at the University of
Dar es Salaam.
He worked at the University of Warwick United Kingdom and at the Institute for Research and Technology on Plastic Materials in Italy.
His research interest is in the development of plant based resources as feedstocks for the production of engineering materials