Fibre-reinforced composites have been in use, in particular for aeronautical applications, for the past 40 years, mostly thanks to their high specific mechanical properties providing high strength and stiffness. Nevertheless, in light of the growing environmental awareness, classic fibres, such as carbon fibres or glass fibres, suffer several drawbacks among which the fact that they are based on non-renewable resources. The high amounts of energy required to produce them and their recycling at the end of their lifetime which is problematic.
Thus, over the last decade, natural fibres have received increasing interest as a potential replacement for classic synthetic fibres, especially for polymer matrix composites, thanks to their bio-based character, good specific mechanical properties and renewable supply. Bamboo fibres i.e. cellulose fibres extracted from the pulp of bamboo plants have excellent natural mechanical properties. With an average density of bamboo fibre of 0,9, bamboo specific mechanical properties even exceed those of glass fibres.
Bamboo fibres offer new perspectives for producing ‘greener composites’ in the sense that they constitute a renewable resource and the processing of the fibres is environmentally friendly. However, existing bamboo fibres tend to be short and randomly oriented, which means the resulting composite mechanical properties are relatively low. It is well-known that fibres provide the highest strength and stiffness when they are continuous and aligned in the direction of applied load. There is currently no process capable of spinning bamboo fibres into continuous strands. Further developments are therefore needed.
In the BIFTTEC project, BAMBOO FIBERS TECHNOLOGY, a French SME which had developed a novel industrial extraction process to extract high quality bamboo fibres proposed to develop a low energy process for converting these bamboo fibres into woven fabrics for use in aeronautical composites applications.