keywords: Agro-waste, hydrophilic, hydrophobic, morphology, natural fiber
The hydrophilic nature and surface morphology of three different chemically modified and unmodified natural fiber materials, namely coir fiber (Eleas coniferus), palm kernel fiber and empty fruit bunch fiber (Eleas guinensis) were studied. The fibers were cleansed with 2% hot detergent liquor ratio 1:100, rinsed thoroughly with distilled water and oven-dried to constant weight, before chemically modified using sodium hydroxide (NaOH), alkaline hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and acidified acetic anhydride (CH3CO)2O. The first two treatments led to fiber weight reduction, while the acidified acetic anhydride treatment gave the fiber weight increment. All the treated fibers were found to be of less hydrophilic nature than their untreated ones, which was confirmed by gravimetric analysis and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectra (FT-IR), respectively. Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) gave the fibers morphology that showed smoother surfaces in modified fibers than unmodified fibers.