Wheat bran, abundant but underutilized, was investigated for its potential as a reinforcement in biocomposites through different pretreatment methods. Pretreatment methods included were dilute sodium hydroxide (NaOH), dilute sulfuric acid (H2SO4), liquid hot water (LHW), calcium hydroxide (CaOH), organosolv such as aqueous ethanol (EtOH), and methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK). Changes in chemical composition and fiber characteristics of the treated bran were studied using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Cellulose content increased to 35.1% and 29.6% in brans treated with H2SO4 and NaOH, respectively. The SEM micrographs showed surface cleaning of treated bran while maintaining sufficient surface roughness for the H2SO4, NaOH, and MIBK treated brans. Crystallinity index increased slightly for all treatments except H2SO4. NaOH and H2SO4 pretreated brans achieved important fiber characteristics, which could be useful for making thermoplastic biocomposites. Innovative use of bran in thermoplastic will create more opportunities for growers while enhancing biodegradability.
Keywords: Biocomposites; fiber composition; pretreatment; surface treatment; wheat bran.