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Mechanical Properties of Activated Carbon (AC) Coconut Shell Reinforced Polypropylene Composites Encapsulated with Epoxy Resin


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APCBEE Procedia 9 ( 2014 ) 92 – 96

2212-6708 © 2014 Z. Salleh. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Selection and peer review under responsibility of Asia-Pacifi c Chemical, Biological & Environmental Engineering Society doi: 10.1016/j.apcbee.2014.01.017


Mechanical Properties of Activated Carbon (AC) Coconut Shell

Reinforced Polypropylene Composites Encapsulated with Epoxy


Salleh Z.


*, Islam M. M.


, M. Y. M. Yusop


and M. A.

Mun’aim M. Idrus


aUniversiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Institute of Marine Engineering Technology(UniKL MIMET),Bandar Teknologi Maritim , Lumut 32200, Malaysia.

bCentre of Excellence in Engineered Fibre Composites, University of Southern Queensland,Toowoomba QLD 4350, Australia


This research is to develop the natural Activated Carbon (AC) composites prepared from carbon coconut shell reinforced with polypropylene (PP). Carbon coconut shell were selected from in-productive of coconut shell specifically namely as carbon Komeng coconut shell (CKCS) with different weight percentages of AC (6, 4 and 2wt%) and PP (4, 6 and 8wt%) contents. The specimens were then encapsulated with epoxy resin. The entire specimens were prepared using SRM (Silicon Rubber Moulds) with dumbbell shape and rectangular shape according to the standard ASTM D2099 and ASTM D256 respectively. The mechanical properties of all samples were investigated to characterize the quality of the samples. The morphological studies of reinforced samples were observed by using SEM machine. The results showed that the tensile stress was increased when AC is increased specifically for sample 4 wt% and 8 wt%. Maximum tensile stresses lead by sample 4 wt% with 30 MPa.

© 2013 Published by Elsevier B.V. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Asia-Pacific Chemical, Biological & Environmental Engineering Society

Keywords: Coconut, Polypropylene, Reinforce


Coconut shell is one of the most important natural fillers produced in tropical countries like Malaysia,

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +605- 690-9049; fax: +605-690-9091. E-mail address: mamunaim@mimet.unikl.edu.my.

2013 5th International Conference on Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering

(ICBEE 2013)

2013 2nd International Conference on Civil Engineering (ICCEN 2013)

© 2014 Z. Salleh. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Many works have been devoted to use of other natural fillers in composites in the recent past and coconut shell filler is a potential candidate for the development of new composites because of their high strength and modulus properties [1,2,3,4]. Composites of high strength coconut filler can be used in the broad range of applications as, building materials, marine cordage, fishnets, furniture, and other household appliances. [5]. Furthermore due to environmental factors, natural carbon such as carbon from coconut have many advantages over traditional polymer fillers. These include low cost, low energy consumption, non-abrasive nature, safety in handling, low density, potentially higher volume fraction, superior specific properties, etc. Disadvantages of natural carbon include low thermal stability, low resistance to moisture, seasonal quality variations, etc. Activated carbon (AC) made from natural sources has been proved to be the most economical adsorbents for waste water treatment [6,7,8]. AC is a porous carbonaceous material which has a high adsorption capacity to be used as adsorbent in industries for the purpose of liquids and gasses purification and also as catalyst. Such industries that employed AC in their treatment process are food and beverages industries, pharmaceutical, automobile and mining. In this research, AC was produced from Komeng coconut shell (CKCS) with different weight percentages (wt.%) reinforced with PP as a matrix and encapsulated with epoxy resin for the composites materials.

2.Research Methodology 2.1.Materials

The experimental was started with the procurement of the Komeng coconut shell, epoxy resin, hardener, SRM mould and PP. The coconut shell was collected from the coconut farm district of Manjung Perak MalaysiaThe resin used was epoxy resin 3554A with the density of 1.15 g/cm3. The SRM open mould type

was used with rectangular shape according standard (ASTM D256) for Izod impact test and dumbbell-shape samples follow the standard ASTM D2099 for tensile test.

2.2.Sample preparation

The shell firstly was weighted using digital weighing machine then it were cleaned with fresh water and lastly dried at room temperature. After that all the coconuts shell were burnt in the oven with temperature ~80°C until 5 minutes so that it become coal or powdered ash. Total number of samples for each mould can produce maximum until 15 specimens in one time. Each mould has a cavity to accommodate the composite samples. Epoxy and hardener were mixed in a container and stirred well for 5–7 minutes. Before the mixture was placed inside the silicon rubber mould (SRM mould), the mould was initially polished with a release agent or wax to prevent the composites from sticking onto the mould upon removal. Firstly, AC from Komeng coconuts shell was weighted based on the percentage 8, 6, 4 and 2%. Then, PP were mixed as matrix into the AC with percentage 2, 4, 6 and 8% then finally encapsulated with epoxy resin. Finally, the mixture components were poured into the SRM mould and left at room temperature for 24 hours until the mixture was hardened and compressed.

2.3.Sample Characterisation

Tensile strength indicates the ability of a composite material to withstand forces that pull it apart as well as the capability of the material to stretch prior to failure. The UTM machine tensile tests were carried out using an Instron machine at Mechanical Department UPM Serdang. Izod impact strength is the ability of the composite material to withstand bending forces applied perpendicular to its longitudinal axis and was located


at Universiti Kuala Lumpur MIMET Lumut Perak. The test was carried out with impact energy of 5 J and a span length of 60 mm at angle 30o. The average value of un-notched Izod impact energy was obtained from

each of specimens. The surfaces of the specimens are examined directly by scanning electron microscope model Hitachi. The eroded samples are mounted on stubs with silver past. To enhance the conductivity of the eroded samples, a thin film of gold is vacuum-evaporated onto them before the photomicrographs are taken.

3.Result and Discussion 3.1.Tensile and Impact Test

0 20 40 0 5 MP a Sample No. Tensile Stress PP-4wt%+ AC-6wt% PP-6wt%+ AC-4wt%

Fig. 1. Tensile stress with difference wt% for all specimens

0 2 4 6 8 0 5 % Sample No. Tensile Strain PP-4wt%+A C-6wt% PP-6wt%+A C-4wt% PP-8wt%+A C-2wt% Fig. 2. Tensile Strain with different wt% for all specimens

128 129 130 131 En erg y (J) AC + PP (wt%)

Impact Test PP-4wt%+AC-6wt%




Fig. 1 shows the Tensile Stress for all specimen no. 1 to 5 with different weight percentage (wt.%) of AC. It was shown that tensile stress trend for AC with 6wt% composite has maximum tensile stress with 30MPa. The trend shows that specimen with 4wt% and 2wt% of AC content increased gradually the stress continued for all specimens while 6wt% decreased the stress until specimen no.5. Specimen with 2wt% shows maintain the stresses and probably is consider as good specimen but still lower stress value on average 20.56MPa. The increasing of AC content internally occurred might be made the strengthen of specimen higher than others. It can be seen that tensile stress of the composites increase with an increase of the filler content. The composites demonstrate somewhat linear behavior to end of specimen no.5. The tensile stress increased also support from the previous work where AC content was increased [9,10,11]. Mechanical properties of AC+PP composites depend on several factors such as the stress–strain behaviours of carbon and matrix phases, the phase volume fractions, the carbon concentration, the distribution and orientation of the carbon or fillers relative to one another. The increase of the filler content, results in the increase in tensile stress. This is due to the fact that AC filler particles strengthen the interface of PP matrix and filler materials. The maximum tensile strength for 6wt% filler composite was higher (30.00 MPa) compared to other two combinations. The result also support from the previous report when ester linkage between cellulosic filler and polypropylene molecule [9]. While the trend for AC with 4wt% slightly decreases from sample no. 1 to 4 but then jump to 21.77MPa for last sample. If compared with AC 2wt% shows that it was maintain their strength with 23MPa on average. It can be seen that at lower concentration of the filler material, specimen 2wt% of AC with PP is 8wt% demonstrated slightly linear behaviour prior to sharp failure or fracture. This means that specimen deformed plastically immediate after elastic deformation. Fig. 2 shows the tensile strain test result for difference wt% for all samples. The sample with lower AC concentration 2wt% has good strain result such as sample no. 1 has maximum tensile strain at 6.27%. Similar with sample PP 6wt% + AC 4wt% even though strain is increased at 5.74% but then decreased at same end point for sample PP 8wt% + AC 2wt% . This trend might be impacted the performance of AC-reinforced plastic composites depends on many factors including the nature of the constituent, carbon/matrix interface, the construction and geometry of the composite and test conditions. The nature of the interface region is extreme importance and is directly related to the toughness of the composite [9]. The impact property of a material is its capacity to absorb and dissipate energies under impact or shock loading. Fig. 3 shows the Izod Impact test result for different AC + PP weight percentage for all samples. It was observed that the Izod impact strength of PP 6wt% + AC 4wt% composites found higher impact value reach 130J better than others composites. Particle size, shape and carbon surface properties have the influence on this sample. This result agrees with previous report due to in fluency of AC contents [12].

Fig. 4. (a). SEM micrograph view 100um; (b) SEM micrograph view 50um

3.2.SEM Micrograph

Microphotographs of the selected samples for AC + PP composite are shown in Fig. 4. In both cases surface features and regions of internal and external structures can be seen, as can the empty space between


the particles were agglomerated with granules of AC. Location of PP is stick between epoxy resin surface. Fig. 4(a) shows the optical overview 100um and 4(b) with enlarge overview 50um. From the enlarge photo it is showed that AC is rich with influences in the epoxy resin and not joining with PP matrix. This was also support that the tensile stress is maximum at 30MPa when PP 4wt% + AC 6wt%. From the Fig. 4 (b) also observed the AC is nearest to each other’s might affect the tensile stress value.


In conclusion, the result for maximum tensile stress leads by PP 4wt% + AC 6wt% composite and it is showed that if increased the AC content will give better strength. In contrast impact strength value is increased while increased the PP contents 6wt% and AC4wt%. This was also observed that same result with the previous report was found that AC influenced in epoxy resin when increase the AC content [12].


The authors would like to acknowledge Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) of Malaysian government for providing the research grant Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS/2/10/TK/UNIKL/03/2).


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[2] Rout, J, Mishra, M, Tripathi,S.S, Nayak, S. K, Mohanty, A, K. “The influence of fibre treatment on the performance of coir -polyester composites.” Compos. Sci. Technol. 2001; 61, 1303–1310.

[3] Rana, A. K, Mandal, A, Bandyopadhyay, S. “Short jute fiber reinforced polypropylene composites: effect of compatibiliser,

impact modifier and fiber loading”. Compos. Sci. Technol. 2003; 63, 801–806.

[4] Jawaid, M, Abdul Khalil , H. P. S, Abu Bakar, A. “Mechanical performance of oil palm empty fruit bunches/jute fibres

reinforced epoxy hybrid composites.”, Materials Science and Engineering A , 2010; 527, 7944–7949.

[5] Mohanty, A.K., Misra, M., Hinrichsen, G.,.“Biofibres, Biodegradable Polymers and Biocomposites: An Overview”, Macromolecular Materials and Engineering , 2000; 276/277: 1-24.

[6] Eichhhorn, S. J., Baillie, C.A, Zafeiropoulos, N. “Review of Current International Research Into Cellulosic Fibres and Composites”, Journal of Material Science, 2001; 36,2107-2113.

[7] Norlia, M, I, Roshazita, C, A, Nuraiti, T.I.T, Salwa, M.Z.M, Fatimah, M.S.S. “Preparation and Characterisation of Activated

Carbon from Rambutan Seed (Nephelium Lappaceum) by Chemical Activation”.UMTAS ,2011; Empowering Science, Technology and Innovation Towards a Better Tomorrow.

[8] Mohan, D., & Jr., C. U. P. “Activated carbon and low cost adsorbent for remediation of tri- and hexavalent chromium from

water” Journal of Hazardous Material, 2006; B137, 762-811.

[9] Andrzej K. Bledzki a, Abdullah A. Mamuna,*, Jürgen Volk. “Barley Husk and Coconut Shell Reinforced Polypropylene Composites: The Effect Of Fibre Physical, Chemical And Surface Properties”. Journal of Composites Science and Technology, Elsevier 2010; 840-846.

[10]Joseph, P. V., Mathew, G., Joseph, K., Groeninckx, G., Thomas, S. “Dynamic mechanical properties of short sisal fibre

reinforced polypropylene composites”, Composites Part A, 2003; 34, 275–290.

[11]Idicula, M, Joseph, K. Thomas, S. “Mechanical Performance of Short Banana/Sisal Hybrid Fiber Reinforced Polyester Composites”. J. Reinf. Plast. Comp, 2010; 29, 12–29.

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