Novel hemp fiber reinforced geopolymer composites were fabricated. The matrix was a new geopolymer based on a mixture of red mud and fly ash. Chopped, randomly oriented hemp fibers were used as reinforcement. The mechanical properties of the geopolymer composite, such as diametral tensile (DTS) (or Brazilian tensile) strength and compressive strength (CS), were measured. The geopolymer composites reinforced with 9 vol.% and 3 vol.% hemp fiber yielded average DTS values of 5.5 MPa and average CS values of 40 MPa. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies were carried out to evaluate the microstructure and fracture surfaces of the composites. The results indicated that the addition of hemp fiber is a promising approach to improve the mechanical strength as well as to modify the failure mechanism of the geopolymer, which changed from brittle to "pseudo-ductile."
Keywords: fly ash; geopolymer composite; hemp fiber; mechanical properties; microstructural analysis; red mud.