Submitted to: Society of Automotive Engineers Transaction
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/29/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Worldwide the United States is the largest user of flax fiber, which is neither grown nor produced in the US. Development of a flax fiber industry could improve depressed rural economies by providing farmers with a low input crop with potentially high revenues. Collaborative research between the USDA and Clemson University has found that current American farming methods (widely known and understood) can be easily transferred to farming flax, which handles the crop more efficiently than traditional European methods. Research addresses production and cost issues for bringing the flax fiber industry to the United States, thereby improving global competitiveness and improved rural development through a new value-added agro-product.
Technical Abstract: Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) has supplied fiber for textiles for thousands of years. Recently, flax has been considered as a cost-effective alternative to glass in composites. New technology and separation techniques have lowered the costs to produce fibers that are more uniform in color, strength, length, and fineness and thus better suited for composites. Replacing glass fibers with flax fibers may allow better material separation, recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse of production waste. End-of-life composite materials could be easily incinerated and used as an alternative fuel source with no glass residue. Emission and source reductions may occur because the fibers are derived from naturally renewable materials created through photosynthesis.