New Composite Materials. Thatched roofs have been around at least 10,000 years. Reed thatch is expected to last at last 50 to 60 years, while straw thatch is not so durable. Reed thatch on the left hand house and straw thatch on the right hand house.
Phragmite Locations Phragmite exists in many area of the world as “reed”. The picture shows phragmite locally. This plant is an invasive species, fast growing and stable in a wide range of wet environments. Combine it with other organic polymers for new composite materials? Applications. Hand rails, lightpoles, utility boxes, Rt 138 near URI Narrow River
Environmental Issues- None. “Invasive plants can crowd out and seriously threaten the health of natural vegetation. One invasive plant called phragmites (frag-my'-tees) can spread rapidly on wet land. Phragmites has been cropping up in areas around the Cape, and environmentalists are trying to keep it from dominating and displacing the natural, diverse plants found along the coast. As Ken Alfieri trudges over the dunes at Sandy Neck Beach, he's not happy to see a reed-like invasive plant that's been rapidly spreading over the past decade.” From “Dr. Tracy Hampton reports for the the Cape and Islands NPR stations”.
Previous Work • In a Quebec Department of Transportation Research Project, methods of stopping Phrgamite were investigated:- • Project title: Invasion of Reedgrass (Phragmite australis) along Highway Corridors: Ecological Causes and Control Methods • File: R538.1 • Problem:Following the completion of a research project on the application of a new method for managing vegetation on highway rights-of-way, special attention was given to the issue of reedgrass invasion. This situation, which the highway vegetation management method appears unable to control, is threatening the ecological integrity of certain ecosystems. It also constitutes a nuisance to agriculture and is harming the aesthetic appearance of the landscape along highways. • Objectives:This project has three objectives: 1) draw up a portrait of the distribution of this plant along the highway network; 2) assess the speed with which it is spreading; and 3) understand the cause of this invasion. On the basis of this understanding, researchers will then examine methods for managing this plant along highway corridors. • Methodology:Conduct an inventory of reedgrass for the entire highway network (excluding urban centres), using traditional plant ecology methods. Furthermore, genetic analyses will be carried out in order to identify the genotypes with which we are dealing.A long-term monitoring program will be implemented to track this plant species' distribution along highways. • Probable Answer – it will grow and spread – drive from Rhode Island to Maine and observe the amount of reed.
1. Benefits and 2. Problem • 1. a) Raw Materials create a POSITIVE cash flow. b) Environmental support for its removal. • 2. How to break it down into fibers economically and simply.
Mechanical or Chemical? • Mechanical- rolling, ball mill rolling – doesn’t create fibers ball mill – doesn’t break down stalks • Chemical - acids or alkalis sodium hydroxide.
Ball Mill Ball mill did not cause any useful, effective break up of plant.
Rolling Mill Rolling flattens but not fibers No control over dimensions.
Chemical Processing Alkaline processing in pH 12.5 sodium hydroxide at 40C is being investigated. Paper processing applies alkali processing but with pressure as well as high pH. Phragmite after 24 hrs in sodium hydroxide Starts to break up and long fibers form After sodium hydroxide exposure
Continuing Project - fiber manufacture • Next a) in what form can fibers be obtained and their properties in composite, b) recycle sodium hydroxide.