Tribological behaviour of green wood-based unrecycled and recycled polypropylene composites

P. Jan, S. Matkovič, M. Bek, L. Slemenik Perše, M. Kalin

Wear 524-525 (2023) 204826.


In this study we evaluated the tribological performance of polypropylene composites with wood-flour fillers obtained as a by-product from the wood-processing industry, which were based on unrecycled and recycled polypropylene polymer matrices. The mechanical properties of polypropylene-wood composites with wood-filler loadings of 0–40 wt. % were determined with tensile tests and their friction and wear behaviours were studied with dry reciprocating ball-on-disc sliding tests against 100Cr6 steel balls at room temperature. The addition of the wood fillers resulted in a significant improvement in the tribological performance compared to the neat, unrecycled, and recycled polypropylene materials: the friction coefficient decreased by up to 30%, while the wear resistance was improved by up to two orders of magnitude. While neat unrecycled polymers have better properties than recycled, addition of 40 wt. % wood-filler content in both, recycled and unrecycled composites, resulted in almost the same level of coefficient of friction (∼0.25) and wear coefficient (2×10−6 mm3/(Nm) to 3×10−6 mm3/(Nm)). Even with the addition of as low as 5 wt. % of wood fibres the wear resistance was improved for 63% and 43% for unrecycled and recycled composites, respectively, which indicates that the use of wood fillers could be a sustainable and cost-effective way to improve the polymer tribological performance, and could compensate for the normally poorer properties of recycled materials, making the recycled polypropylene-wood composites a suitable sustainable choice for tribological applications.

Keywords: wear, polypropylene, bio composite, wood fillers, recycling, sustainability


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