Cotton fibers to enhance performance of particulate cementitious composites



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Due to the relatively weak tensile properties of cementitious composites, distributed fibers are used as reinforcement to overcome such deficiencies. However, the fibers that are being used today are predominantly synthetic, either metal or those derived from petroleum. The use of natural fibers in cementitious composites has been an area of increasing interest in the research community for the past few years. Cotton is the most widely used natural industrial fiber used primarily in the textile industry. But on average, one-third of the cotton production is rejected by the textile industry for not meeting their stringent quality expectations. Therefore, finding effective alternative uses for cotton not meeting those requirements can provide both economic and sustainability benefits. This dissertation research is a comprehensive investigation of cotton fiber as a distributed reinforcement in cementitious composites, and included the behavior of cotton fiber in the composite, constructability implications and the mechanical and fracture properties of fiber reinforced cementitious composites. Several forms of cotton fibers were produced in the laboratory using chemical and physical treatment methods as well as mechanically twisting the fibers to produce macrofibers of different diameters and aspect ratios. The water demand of cotton fiber and its effect on mechanical properties of cotton fiber reinforced cementitious composites were evaluated. A mechanistic model was developed to evaluate fiber distortion during mixing of the composite and that was used to develop criteria to achieve undistorted fibers in the mix. The effect of cotton fiber on fracture properties of the cementitious composite was also studied with an emphasis on the geometric parameters of fiber. Overall, the results from this study are encouraging and shows potential for cotton fiber to be used as reinforcement in cementitious composites.



Cotton fiber, Cementitious composites, Distribution, Distortion, Strength, Fracture properties