(227a) Modeling the Mechanical Properties of Biopolymers for Automotive Applications

Authors: 
Mahdi, K., Kuwait University
Elkamel, A., University of Waterloo
Simon, L., University of Waterloo
Vinayagamoorthy, V., University of Waterloo

The automotive industry is constantly looking for alternative solutions to reduce manufacturing cost and use renewable materials. Implementing agro-fibres as polymer fillers in thermoplastic matrix will satisfy the automotive criteria without sacrificing the mechanical properties currently set by the conventional fillers such as glass fibre, talc, or mica. This paper proposes the use of wheat straw as filler in polypropylene for automotive industry and investigates models for determining compositions of the materials to correspond to mechanical properties Wheat straw is an agriculture crop that is low in density, high in strength, and cheap to produce. These attributes out-compete the properties of petroleum based fillers; however, the agro-fibre has shortcomings to creating a biocomposite. The wheat straw is highly water absorbing, deformation effects occur when the material is subjected to intense heat, and the supply of the crop is seasonal.

Data collection is performed by varying weight percentages of wheat straw and polypropylene to create the biocomposites through an extrusion process. The end products are molded into proper shapes for mechanical testing. Different modeling approached that include polynomial regression, artificial neural networks and support vector machines are investigated to prepare predictive models for the biocomposite properties. A comparison between the purely empirical methods shows that support vector machines produced the best model, followed by artificial neural networks, and then polynomial regression.

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