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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Enzyme Retting of Flax for Linen Fibers: Recent Developments

Author
item Akin, Danny

Submitted to: American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Abstracts
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 22, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The US is one of the largest consumers per capita of flax/linen, but no industry exists here. The Center for American Fiber Flax was established with the goal of bringing to the US such an industry to supply clean and consistent quality, domestically grown flax fiber for use in several fiber industry sectors. However, two major problems are retting and quality standards. These two problems are being addressed by research at the Russell Research Center. Preliminary results indicate that enzymatic retting (subject of a patent application) could produce short staple flax fibers that could be characterized by cotton testing methods. These results help the Center in efforts to establish a flax/linen industry for the US based on short staple flax fiber.

Technical Abstract: Enzymatically retted flax fiber can be used to produce short staple flax fiber in laboratory settings. Cotton testing methods, i.e., Stelometer and microaire, provide useful values for comparing different flax samples, enzyme formulations, and quality of retting. Flaxzyme at 0.05% w/v of commercial product plus the addition of chelator and applied to mechanically disrupted stems results in stronger fibers of near equal fineness to that by the recommended level of 0.3% Flaxzyme. Properties of these enzymatically retted flax fibers compare well with those of dew-rette ttonized" flax and good quality cotton, giving slightly higher microaire values with greater strength. The values are useful to compare laboratory methods, but information is not available to relate values to performance properties of the fibers and further research is required to make these relationships with flax. Based on studies with the laboratory bench carder and Shirley Analyzer, cotton processing equipment can be used probably with modifications, to produce short staple flax fibers for use in various industry sectors, i.e., textiles, nonwovens, composites.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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