In this work, Adenine is proposed, for the first time, as a cross-linker for epoxy resins. Adenine is an amino-substituted purine with heterocyclic aromatic structure showing both proton donors, and hydrogen bonding ability. DSC studies show that adenine is able to positively cross-link a biobased DGEBA-like commercial epoxy precursor with good thermal performance and a reaction mechanism based on a 1H NMR investigation has been proposed. The use of such a formulation to produce composite with recycled short carbon fibers (and virgin ones for the sake of comparison), as well as jute and linen natural fibers as sustainable reinforcements, leads to materials with high compaction and fiber content. The curing cycle was optimized for both carbon fiber and natural fiber reinforced materials, with the aim to achieve the better final properties. All composites produced display good thermal and mechanical properties with glass transition in the range of HT resins (Tg > 150 °C, E' =26 GPa) for the carbon fiber-based composites. The natural fiber-based composites display slightly lower performance that is nonetheless good compared with standard composite performance (Tg about 115-120 °C, E' = 7-9 GPa). The present results thus pave the way to the application of adenine as hardener system for composites production.
Keywords: FRP; adenine; biobased hardener; composite; epoxy resins; flax fibers; jute fibers; recycled carbon fibers; sustainability.