The Influence of Bleached Jute Fiber Filler on the Properties of Vulcanized Natural Rubber
There is growing interest in replacing the synthetic reinforcements used for natural rubber (NR) composites with natural fibers from renewable, environmentally sustainable sources. Jute fibers may be suitable reinforcements for NR because they have a high tensile strength, which is comparable to other fillers such as glass fibers. Thus, we studied the incorporation of bleached jute fibers into NR, characterizing the mechanical, dynamic mechanical, and morphological properties of the composites. The addition of fibers to the NR latex was achieved by chemical coagulation, followed by vulcanization in a laboratory two-roll mixing mill. The elastic modulus at 100 and 300% elongation of the NR doubled after the addition of 10 phr of fibers without significant loss in the tensile strength or the elongation at break. The hardness was increased by 47%, and the storage modulus also increased, indicating the excellent interactions between the surfaces of the fibers and the NR matrix.