Effect of Steam Treatment on the Characteristics of Oil Palm Empty Fruit Bunch and Its Biocomposite


Abdul Muttalib Bin Bujang(1), Noor Ida Amalina Binti Ahamad Nordin(2*)

(1) Faculty of Chemical and Natural Resources Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun Razak 26300, Gambang, Pahang, Malaysia
(2) Faculty of Chemical and Natural Resources Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun Razak 26300, Gambang, Pahang, Malaysia
(*) Corresponding Author


Oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) has a big potential in biocomposite production. The porous surface of EFB is advantageous for physical interlocking with polymer in composite fabrication. The objective of this study is to determine the properties of biocomposite prepared from steam-treated EFB with polypropylene (PP). The EFB was treated using steam at 120 °C for 30 min (Steam-30) and 60 min (Steam-60) in an autoclave. The biocomposite was prepared from EFB and PP at different fiber contents (10 and 30 wt.%). The Steam-30 EFB partially removed silica bodies and other impurities without damaging the surface of the EFB. The thermal stability improved from 276 to 283 °C. The Steam-30/PP biocomposite had the highest tensile strength at 10 and 30 wt.% EFB contents with the increments of 23.9 and 23.8%, respectively, compared to that of the untreated EFB/PP biocomposite. The Steam-30/PP biocomposite containing 30 wt.% of EFB had a low water absorption of 5.6% compared to that of the untreated EFB/PP biocomposite at 7.2%. In conclusion, steam treatment improved the characteristics of EFB and increased the compatibility between the fiber and polymer.


empty fruit bunch (EFB); polypropylene (PP); biocomposite; tensile strength; water absorption

Full Text:

Full Text PDF


[1] Akindoyo, J.O., Beg, M.D., Ghazali, S., Islam, M.R., and Mamun, A.A., 2015, Preparation and characterization of poly(lactic acid)-based composites reinforced with poly dimethyl siloxane/ultrasound-treated oil palm empty fruit bunch, Polym. Plast. Technol. Eng., 54 (13), 1321–1333.

[2] Scherer, C., Emberger-Klein, A., and Menrad, K., 2017, Biogenic product alternatives for children: Consumer preferences for a set of sand toys made of bio-based plastic, Sustainable Prod. Consumption, 10, 1–14.

[3] Palamae, S., Dechatiwongse, P., Choorit, W., Chisti, Y., and Prasertsan, P., 2017, Cellulose and hemicellulose recovery from oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) fibers and production of sugars from the fibers, Carbohydr. Polym., 155, 491–497.

[4] Brockhaus, S., Petersen, M., and Kersten, W., 2016, A crossroads for bioplastics: exploring product developers’ challenges to move beyond petroleum-based plastics, J. Cleaner Prod., 127, 84–95.

[5] Sanjay, M., Arpitha, G., Naik, L., Gopalakrishna, K., and Yogesha, B., 2016, Applications of natural fibers and its composites: An overview, Nat. Resour., 7, 108–114.

[6] Shamsudin, S., Shah, U.K.M., Zainudin, H., Abd-Aziz, S., Kamal, S.M.M., Shirai, Y., and Hassan, M.A., 2012, Effect of steam pretreatment on oil palm empty fruit bunch for the production of sugars, Biomass Bioenergy, 36, 280–288.

[7] Awalludin, M.F., Sulaiman, O., Hashim, R., and Nadhari, W.N.A.W., 2015, An overview of the oil palm industry in Malaysia and its waste utilization through thermochemical conversion, specifically via liquefaction, Renewable Sustainable Energy Rev., 50, 1469–1484.

[8] Dhandapani, S., Nayak, S., and Mohanty, S., 2015, Surface modification of oil palm fruit bunch and fibre reinforcement effect on bio-based polyester matrix composites: Dynamic, morphology, thermal and mechanical properties, J. Elastomers Plast., 48 (5), 456–479.

[9] Hosseinaei, O., Wang, S., Enayati, A.A., and Rials, T.G., 2012, Effects of hemicellulose extraction on properties of wood flour and wood-plastic composites, Composites Part A, 43 (4), 686–694.

[10] Nordin, N.I.A.A., Ariffin, H., Andou, Y., Hassan, M.A., Shirai, Y., Nishida, H., Yunus, W.M.Z.W., Karuppuchamy, S., and Ibrahim, N.A., 2013, Modification of oil palm mesocarp fiber characteristics using superheated steam treatment, Molecules, 18 (8), 9132–9146.

[11] Izani, M.A.N., Paridah, M.T., Anwar, U.M.K., Nor, M.Y.M., and H’Ng, P.S., 2013, Effects of fiber treatment on morphology, tensile and thermogravimetric analysis of oil palm empty fruit bunches fibers, Composites Part B, 45 (1), 1251–1257.

[12] Beg, M.D.H., Akindoyo, J.O., Ghazali, S., and s, A.A., 2015, Impact modified oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber/poly (lactic) acid composite, Int. J. Chem. Nucl. Mater. Metall. Eng., 9 (1), 165–170.

[13] Abdullah, M.A., Nazir, M.S., Raza, M.R., Wahjoedi, B.A., and Yussof, A.W., 2016, Autoclave and ultra-sonication treatments of oil palm empty fruit bunch fibers for cellulose extraction and its polypropylene composite properties, J. Cleaner Prod., 126, 686–697.

[14] Harun, N.A.F., Baharuddin, A.S., Zainudin, M.H.M., Bahrin, E.K., Naim, M.N., and Zakaria, R., 2013, Cellulase production from treated oil palm empty fruit bunch degradation by locally isolated Thermobifida fusca, BioResources, 8 (1), 676–687.

[15] Shinoj, S., Visvanathan, R., Panigrahi, S., and Kochubabu, M., 2011, Oil palm fiber (OPF) and its composites: A review, Ind. Crops Prod., 33 (1), 7–22.

[16] Zailuddin, N.L.I., and Husseinsyah, S., 2016, Tensile properties and morphology of oil palm empty fruit bunch regenerated cellulose biocomposite films, Procedia Chem., 19, 366–372.

[17] Rayung, M., Ibrahim, N., Zainuddin, N., Saad, W., Razak, N., and Chieng, B.W., 2014, The effect of fiber bleaching treatment on the properties of poly(lactic acid)/oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber composites, Int. J. Mol. Sci., 15 (8), 14728–14742.

[18] Jacob, M., Thomas, S., and Varughese, K.T., 2004, Mechanical properties of sisal/oil palm hybrid fiber reinforced natural rubber composites, Compos. Sci. Technol., 64 (7-8), 955–965.

[19] Kabir, M.M., Wang, H., Lau, K.T., and Cardona, F., 2012, Chemical treatments on plant-based natural fibre reinforced polymer composites: An overview, Composites Part B, 43 (7), 2883–2892.

[20] Nadzri, N.I.M., Jamaludin, S.B., and Noor, M.M., 2012, Development and properties of coconut fiber reinforced composite cement with the addition of fly ash, J. Sustainable Cem.-Based Mater., 1 (4), 186–191.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/ijc.40906

Article Metrics

Abstract views : 267 | views : 284

Copyright (c) 2019 Indonesian Journal of Chemistry

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Indonesian Journal of Chemisty (ISSN 1411-9420 / 2460-1578) - Chemistry Department, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.

Analytics View The Statistics of Indones. J. Chem.