Moisture absorption effects on the mechanical properties of sandwich biocomposites with cork core and Flax/PLA face sheets

Hom Dhakal*, Chulin Jiang, Moumita Sit, Zhong Yi Zhang, Moussa Khalfallah, Erwan Grossmann

*Corresponding author for this work

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the moisture absorption behaviour and its influence on the mechanical properties of newly developed sandwich biocomposites with flax fibre-reinforced poly-lactic acid (PLA) face sheets and soft cork as the core material. Three different types of sandwich biocomposite laminates comprised of different layup configurations, namely, non-woven flax/PLA (Sample A), non-woven flax/PLA and cork as core (Sample B) and non-woven flax/paper backing/PLA, cork as core (Sample C), were fabricated. In order to evaluate the influence of moisture ingress on the mechanical properties, the biocomposites were immersed in seawater for a period of 1200 h. The biocomposites (both dry and water immersed) were then subjected to tensile, flexural and low-velocity falling weight impact tests. It was observed from the experimental results that the moisture uptake significantly influenced the mechanical properties of the biocomposites. The presence of the cork and paper in sample C made it more susceptible to water absorption, reaching a value of 34.33%. The presence of cork in the core also has a considerable effect on the mechanical, as well as energy dissipation, behaviours. The results of sample A exhibited improved mechanical performance in both dry and wet conditions compared to samples B and C. Sample A exhibits 32.6% more tensile strength and 81.4% more flexural strength in dry conditions than that in sample C. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray micro-CT images revealed that the failure modes observed are a combination of matrix cracking, core crushing and face core debonding. The results from this study suggest that flax/PLA sandwich biocomposites can be used in various lightweight applications with improved environmental benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7295
Number of pages17
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • biocomposites
  • flax fibres
  • mechanical properties
  • impact damage
  • delamination


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