keywords: Feather fibres, sodium hydroxide, SEM, tensile test, vulcanizates, wear
Limitations of keratin based fillers amongst other organic fillers generally include high moisture absorption, relatively low strength and poor dispersion in matrix. Therefore, several surface treatment methods are employed in order to enhance fibre hydrophobicity, roughness, wettability, interfacial adhesion and dispersion. In this study, chicken feather fibres were stripped off their quills and pretreated with 0.25M of sodium hydroxide solution for 4 h at 50oC and size reduced. The morphological changes were observed via Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Thereafter, natural rubber (NR) vulcanizates were developed with untreated versus treated chicken feather fibres as fillers using a two roll mill and a compression moulding machine. The effect of treatment and varying filler loading (from 0 to 10 ppH) on the water absorption, wear and mechanical properties: tensile strength, elongation at break, modulus (M300) and energy at break were studied. Tensile strength, M300, elongation at break and energy at break were enhanced from 2.52 to 3.84 MPa, 2.02 to 2.10 MPa, 485 to 608% and 5.5 to 16.44 J, respectively. Wear rate and water absorption rate reduced from 0.4 to 0.18% and from 1.9 to 1.3%, respectively. Alkali treatment thus enhanced the reinforcement and abrasion resistance properties of feathers in natural rubber vulcanizates.