This paper aims to examine the effect of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) derived from oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber (EFB) incorporating cement mortar on its structural performances. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were extracted from α-cellulose extracted from EFB using an acid hydrolysis process with a concentration of acid used was 64% w/v under the temperature of 45 °C for 60 minutes. The Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) were mixed into the cement mortar ranging from 0 to 0.8% w/w and its mechanical properties were determined. The developed CNCs mortar was characterized for their compressive and flexural properties as well as microstructure. The influence of CNCs concentration, curing method, dispersion of CNCs on mortar’s mechanical performance was thoroughly examined to find out the optimum condition. Overall results revealed that an addition of 0.4% cellulose nanocrystals has shown to increase the compressive and flexural strength to 46% and 20%, respectively cured under the wrapping method. The hydration of cementitious composites also improved significantly with the addition of CNCs by the formation of highly crystalline of portlandite observed under the XRD test. This present work demonstrates the importance of palm oil empty fruit bunch waste as a sustainable resource of cellulose nanocrystals admixture to achieve structural strength of cement mortar and promotes green technologies in construction.
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