Title: DEVELOPMENT OF MACHINES TO SEPARATE FIBER AND SHIVE FROM SEED FLAX STRAW Author
Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 6, 2005
Publication Date: December 15, 2005
Citation: Anthony, W.S. Development of machines to separate fiber and shive from seed flax straw. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. Vol. 21(6): 1057-1063. Interpretive Summary: Nearly all flax fiber used in the United States is imported. Limited quantities of seed flax are grown for paint and medicinal use. After the seed are harvested, the stalks are considered a waste product and is allowed to degrade in the field or burned. However, the stalks it can be separated into marketable fiber and shive and, if the fiber is 80% pure, it can be used for composites and paper. Unfortunately, the technology to economically separate the fiber from the shive does not exist. This report evaluated the potential of several machines to remove flax fiber from chopped seed flax straw. Then, a new machine that incorporated the principles of several machines was built and tested. The initial version of the machine did not yield the desired 80% fiber purity, so more saw cylinders were added. The most effective version produced 13.8% yield out of a possible 20% fiber with a purity of 81.4%. The yield can be improved with additional modifications to the machine. This report indicates that fiber can be retrieved from the waste stalks and a new domestic industry is possible. Further testing is required to determine fiber quality and cost effectiveness.
Technical Abstract: Seed flax stalk is usually considered a waste product but it can be separated into marketable fiber and shive. The fiber can be used for applications such as composites and paper. Separation of traditional long line fiber from fiber flax stalks is a rigorous and expensive process that requires the stalk to be biologically degraded (retted) before processing. This process is not economically feasible for seed flax stalks. This study evaluated the potential of several machines traditionally used to remove foreign matter from cotton in terms of their capability to remove flax fiber from chopped seed flax straw. The successful mechanical principles of several machines were then incorporated into a single machine and used to separate the fiber and shive from the straw. The new machine consists of components of a modified gin cleaner typically used for cleaning seed cotton and components of a machine typically used for cleaning lint. The initial version of the machine did not yield the desired 80% fiber purity, so more saw cylinders were added. The most effective version produced 13.8% yield out of a possible 20% fiber with a purity of 81.4%. The yield can be improved with additional modifications to the machine.