ball of string

Cheap fibre used to make burlap, gunny sacks and twine could inexpensively reinforce mortar and concrete. (photo courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Fashionable people may turn up their noses at jute—the cheap fibre used to make burlap, gunny sacks, twine and other common products—but new research is enhancing jute’s appeal as an inexpensive, sustainable reinforcement for mortar and concrete. The study appears in ACS’ journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Subhasish B. Majumder and colleagues note that there has been a resurgence of interest in using economical, sustainable natural fibres, rather than steel or synthetic fibres, to reinforce the cement compositions used to make concrete and mortar, the world’s most widely used building materials. That reinforcement makes cement compositions stronger and more resistant to cracks. Their previous research showed that jute works as a reinforcement fibre.

The new study discovered another advantage of jute, which is second only to cotton as the most widely used natural fibre. The addition of jute fibers also delays the hardening of concrete and mortar, which must be trucked to construction sites. “The prolonged setting of these fibre-reinforced cement composites would be beneficial for applications where the pre-mixed cement aggregates are required to be transported from a distant place to construction site,” the report states.

Source: American Chemical Society

image 1: Nahid Hossain