Microbial growth on fiber reinforced composite materials

Ji Dong Gu, T. Ford, K. Thorp, R. Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Microorganisms may be responsible for physical and chemical changes in composite materials. Inoculation of a fungal consortium to pre-sterilized coupons of five composites resulted in deep penetration into the interior of all materials at a temperature of approximately 22°C within 5 weeks. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed that the inoculated composites were etched by the microorganisms. None of the five composites tested resisted fungal attack. Inoculation of extracts of these composites with the same fungi resulted in higher growth compared to the control, suggesting that chemical compounds leached from the composites were utilized by microorganisms as a source of carbon and energy. Studies with pure fibers used in the manufacture of composite materials showed that the fungi grew rapidly on both glass and carbon fibers in the presence of the fungal consortium. Our study indicates that microorganisms pose a threat to composite materials. We are currently investigating chemical and physical changes induced in these materials by the growth of fungi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


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