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Pre-straining as an effective strategy to mitigate ratcheting during fatigue in flax FRP composites for structural applications

V.P. Perruchoud 1, R.C. Alderliesten 2, Y. Mosleh 1

1 Biobased Structures and Materials, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands (
2 Aerospace Structures and Materials, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

Biobased fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, consisting of natural lignocellulosic fibres such as flax or hemp, are great alternatives to synthetic fibres to mitigate the environmental impact of high-performance composites in engineering structures. Natural fibres such as flax have damping and specific mechanical properties suitable to potentially replace glass fibres in FRP composites in engineering structures. However, structural design with flax FRPs can be challenging for engineers due to their rather peculiar mechanical responses thanks to the complex multi-scale microstructure of the flax fibres. In particular, flax FRP composites have shown large ratcheting (accumulation of plastic deformation) and stiffness increase when subjected to tensile fatigue loading. Therefore, this paper proposes a novel yet simple 'pre-straining' method as a promising strategy for improving the fatigue response of flax FRP, to potentially replace synthetic glass FRP in various engineering structures. To this end, cross-ply flax, and glass FRP composite laminates were manufactured and subsequently tensile-tensile fatigue experiments were performed. It was observed that pre-straining of flax FRP composite coupons can improve their mechanical performance by increasing stiffness and reducing ratcheting during fatigue which is attributed to further alignment of the fibres within the twisted yarns, as well as possible microfibril alignment. The pre-straining of glass fibre reinforced composites samples did not lead to any remarkable reduction in ratcheting nor increase in stiffness.

Key words: Bio-composite, fatigue, pre-straining, ratcheting, tensile loading, damage