Development of palm tree fiber reinforced polymer composites [Phase I]

Project: Research

Project Details


The overall objective of this proposal is to utilize the crop residue of local date palm trees in KSA as the fiber-phase of a polymer-based composite as value added construction materials. Around 26% of Saudi Arabias annual budget (>800 billion USD) goes to construction projects and many construction materials used are imported. Through modification of the techniques developed for coniferous and deciduous trees, palm-based composites will be manufactured with the same dimensions/cross sections and mechanical properties as other common building materials available in KSA. This will enable a cutting of the supply chain from foreign sources and thereby creating new business opportunities for the people of KSA to become more self-sufficient. The first part in that project will be the identification and characterization of palm tree-based reinforcement materials from the crop residues of different date palm cultivars then followed by the pre-treatment and conversion of date palm crop residues into fibers reinforcement raw materials More than 23 million palm trees exist in Saudi Arabia currently. The crop residue of these trees is barely utilized an untapped resource. A thorough literature search demonstrates that there are promising opportunities to make scientific advances with palm tree composites using thermosetting resins such as epoxies, phenolic resins, and melamine-urea formaldehyde. These polymeric resins have been barely utilized yet hold considerable promise to make construction materials that aligns with the goal of the Hydrocarbon Sustainability Program (HSP) by Ministry of Energy. Completely novel to this work is the utilization of the microwave curing of date palm fiber composites that is expected to significantly save energy consumption during processing as it has more controlled volumetric heating and ramp-up over traditional curing methods. This work is significant for three reasons. First, it transforms a waste product into a construction material that will use hydrocarbon in non-oil and gas field (HSP Program). Second, the construction material is a direct replacement for current construction materials used in KSA and thus cuts the need for importing the same product. Finally, the new product is in need for a new manufacturing plant thereby creating jobs for the Saudi Citizenry.
Effective start/end date1/07/2131/12/22


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