Properties of Plant Fiber Composites

Brazilian researchers are looking for sustainable alternatives for construction materials. Here you will find some of the properties of plant fiber composites with potential for use in the civil construction.

Pineapple plants

The use of plant fibers as reinforcement in building materials allows for sustainable construction works. Thus, the knowledge on the properties of plant fiber composites is of utmost importance. Furthermore, their fiber/matrix interface play a key role when it comes to certain applications. Good adhesion between the fiber and the matrix, in addition to using hydrophilic fibers, are desirable features that can be achieved by modifying the surface of the fibers.

Mechanical, Acoustic and Thermal Properties

Mechanical, acoustic, and thermal properties requirements for composites will change according to their application. Bruno Rosa, under the guidance of Professors Newton Dias Filho and Fernando Barbosa Montanare from the Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), have studied the mechanical and thermal properties of buriti fiber (8) (whose palm is found in several regions of Brazil). Due to buriti fiber’s high mechanical strength and low production cost, it can be used as a replacement for fiberglass in civil construction and auto industry.

Acoustic absorption of panels reinforced with banana pseudostem fibers was studied by Carlos Alberto Demarchi in his master’s thesis, which was advised by professor Gioson Morales (Londrina State University – UEL) (4). These properties have also been studied for other types of fibers, such as those of eucalyptus (2) (study by Correia, Santos and Savastano), coconut (3) (study by Paulo Cunha advised by professors Uilame Umbelino Gomes and Rasiah Ladchumananandasivam), sisal (5) (Indara Izquierdo, under the guidance of Professor Marcio Antonio Ramalho), etc.

Surface Modification of Different Plant Fibers

Gustavo Tonoli (Federal University of Lavras - UFLA) under the guidance of Francisco Antonio Rocco Lahr (University of Sao Paulo - USP) modified the surface of eucalyptus fibers to be used in fiber-cements for the work of his PhD thesis (9, 10).

Cleidiene S. Miranda , Ricardo F. Carvalho and Nadia M. José from the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and Raigenis P. Fiuza from the Federal Institute of Bahia (IFBA) focused on how four different treatments applied to the surface of piassava fiber waste–from the brooms industry–affected the properties of the fibers (7).

The researchers Juliana S. Marcon, Daniella R. Mulinari, Maria Odila H. Cioffi, and Herman J. C. Voorwald (Sao Paulo State University - UNESP) analyzed the effect of surface modification of pineapple crown fibers aiming at their use as an enforcement in a polymeric matrix (6).

Other studies as the one from the research group of professor Julio Cesar Moreira (University of Paraiba Valley - UNIVAP), have focused on the study of the mechanical properties of treated banana pseudostem fiber for making gypsum composites to be used in civil construction (1).

View accompanying articles on sustainability in civil engineering and eco-friendly construction materials!


  • (1) Barros, L. F., Nogueira, A. O. M., Siqueira, P. L., Moreira, J. C.; A utilização da fibra de bananeira para a produção de compósitos [Use of banana tree fiber for the production of composites]; XII Encontro Latino Americano de Iniciação Científica, VIII Encontro Latino Americano de Pós-Graduação, and II Encontro Latino Americano de Iniciação Científica Júnior - Universidade do Vale do Paraíba, 2008; Available from:; Accessed on May 4, 2018
  • (2) Correia, V.C., Santos, S.F., Savastano Jr., H., Effect of the Accelerated Carbonation in Fibercement Composites Reinforced with Eucalyptus Pulp and Nanofibrillated Cellulose, Intl. Journal of Civil, Environmental, Structural, Construction and Architectural Engineering Vol:9, No:1, 2015; Available from:; Accessed on May 4, 2018
  • (3) Cunha, P. W. S.; Estudo sobre as potencialidades de compósitos à base de gesso e fibras de coco seco para aplicação na construção civil [Study on the potential of gypsum and coconut fiber-based composites for use in civil constructions]; PhD thesis, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), 2012; Available from:; Accessed on May 23, 2018
  • (4) Demarchi, C. A.; Aplicabilidade de placas de fibras de bananeira: Produção, caracterização e absorção sonora [Aplicability of boards made of banana tree fibers: Production, characterization and sound absorption]; Master’s thesis, State University of Londrina (UEL), 2010; Available from:; Accessed on May 4, 2018
  • (5) Izquierdo, I.S.; Uso de fibra natural de sisal em blocos de concreto para alvenaria estrutural [Use of sisal natural fiber in concrete blocks for structural masonry]; Master’s thesis, São Carlos School of Engineering, University of São Paulo, 2011; Available from:; Accessed on June 6, 2018
  • (6) Marcon, J. S., Mulinari, D. R., Cioffi, M. O. H., Voorwald, H. J. C.; Estudo da modificação da fibra proveniente da coroa de abacaxi para a formação de compósitos poliméricos [Study of modification of fibers from pineapple crown for the formation of polymeric composites]; Proceedings of the 10º Congresso Brasileiro de Polímeros – Foz do Iguaçu, PR, Brazil – October, 2009; Available from:; Accessed on June 8, 2018
  • (7) Miranda, C. S., Fiuza, R. P., Carvalho, R. F. and José, N. M.; Efeito dos tratamentos superficiais nas propriedades do bagaço da fibra de piaçava Attalea funifera Martius [Effect of surface treatment on properties of bagasse piassava fiber Attalea funifera Martius]; Quim. Nova, Vol. 38, No. 2, 161-165, 2015; Available from:; Accessed on June 8, 2018
  • (8) Rosa, B. P.; Caracterização mecânica e térmica de um polímero termorrígido modificado com fibra de buriti [Mechanical and Thermal Characterization of a thermoset polymer modified with burity fiber]; PhD thesis, Sao Paulo State University (UNESP), 2017; Available from:; Accessed on June 6, 2018
  • (9) Tonoli, G. H. D.; Fibras curtas de eucalipto inovam tecnologias em fibrocimento [Short eucalyptus fibers innovate fibercement technology]; Available from:; Accessed on May 4, 2018
  • (10) Tonoli, G. H. D.; Fibras curtas de Eucalipto para novas tecnologias em fibrocimento [Short eucalyptus fibers for new fibercement technology]; PhD thesis, Sao Paulo University, 2009; Available from:; Accessed on June 6, 2018

Share with your colleagues

Share your work as a preprint and help move science forward

We invite you to share your research with the community by posting it online as a preprint. Our sister company, Research Square, is a trusted preprint platform that lets you get credit for your unpublished research early, increase your citations, and get feedback from the community.

Related Articles

Brazil and “Styrofoam” Reuse

Research Spotlight

Brazil and “Styrofoam” Reuse

Expanded polystyrene is often not recycled for many reasons. However, despite difficulties, EPS can and should be recycled. Discover how Brazilian Universities are recycling EPS... Read More »

How Brazil is Embracing Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Research Spotlight

How Brazil is Embracing Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Over the past decades, there has been an increase in frequency and intensity of natural disasters. It feels like we are in a race against... Read More »

Eco-friendly Construction Materials

Research Spotlight

Eco-friendly Construction Materials

Here is a list and description of some of the eco-friendly construction materials with application in civil engineering. Read More »

Stay up to date

Sign up for early access to AJE Scholar articles, discounts on AJE services, and more