Fungal degradation of fiber-reinforced composite materials

Ji Dong Gu, Chun Lu, K. Thorp, A. Crasto, R. Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We described in a previous report that a fungal consortium isolated from degraded polymeric materials was capable of growth on pre-sterilized coupons of five composites, resulting in deep penetration into the interior of all materials within 5 weeks J Data describing the utilization of composite constituents as nutrients for the microflora are described in this paper. Increased microbial growth was observed when composite extract was incubated with the fungal inoculum at ambient temperatures. Scanning electron microscopic (SEM) observation of carbon fibers incubated with a naturally developed population of microorganisms showed the formation of bacterial biofilms on the fiber surfaces, suggesting possible utilization of the fiber chemical sizing as carbon and energy sources. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was used to monitor the phenomena occurring at the fiber-matrix interfaces. Significant differences were observed between inoculated and sterile panels of the composite materials. A progressive decline in impedance was detected in the inoculated panels. Several reaction steps may be involved in the degradation process. Initial ingress of water into the resin matrix appears to be followed by degradation of fiber surfaces, and separation of fibers from the resin matrix. Our investigation suggested that composite materials are susceptible to microbial attack by providing nutrients for growth.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNACE - International Corrosion Conference Series
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes
EventCorrosion 1996 - Denver, United States
Duration: 24 Mar 199629 Mar 1996


  • Bacteria
  • Biodeterioration
  • Biodégradation
  • Carbon fibers
  • Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy
  • Fiber reinforced polymeric composite
  • Fungi


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