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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Project Number: 6612-44000-022-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 04, 2004
End Date: Jun 03, 2009

Enhancing value of fiber commodities, such as industrial fibers kenaf, flax, and cotton, through microbial and enzymatic activities. Design, develop, and test specific woven and non-woven materials for composites with specific properties and industrial applications. Specifically, 1) optimize retting methods for separating high and consistent quality fibers from both seed- and fiber-type flax cultivars, 2) develop standard methods and practices through established subcommittee D 13.17 of ASTM to objectively measure fiber properties, 3) through ARS-USDA, governmental, and industrial collaborations, design and produce woven and non-woven flax fiber products for construction of composites for specific industrial applications.

Develop composites from flax fiber. Agricultural crops and products will be treated with microorganisms and enzymes that selectively remove fiber components and enhance value of products and processing methods. Treatments will be selected from available commercial enzymes and from newly isolated microorganisms and newly developed enzyme mixtures. Work will focus on improving retting procedures for obtaining fibers from bast plants such as kenaf and flax using enzyme mixtures containing pectinases, hemicellulases, and other non-cellulase enzymes that facilitate fiber separation from stems. Successful efforts at retting will be followed with research to scale up the process and work towards developing a commercial process for enzyme retting of bast fibers. Physical, chemical, and structural properties of treated fibers will be characterized by modern methods, and a body of knowledge will be developed to establish standards for evaluating fiber and fiber processing. New methods will be developed for rapid determination and evaluation of these standards.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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