Submitted to: Fiber Flax Processing for Applications in Textiles and Composites
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/10/2000
Publication Date: 4/10/2000
Citation: Akin, D.E., Morrison III, W.H., Rigsby, L.L., Dodd, R.B., Foulk, J.A., Mc Alister III, D.D. 2000. Enzyme retting and properties of flax fibers. Fiber Flax Processing for Applications in Textiles and Composites. The Center for American Flax Fiber, Clemson University: pp. Appendix IV, 1-6. Interpretive Summary: The lack of a method to ret flax consistently and with high quality fibers a major problem with developing a US flax industry. Research has been carr out that shows the potential for use of pectinase-containing enzyme mixture to ret fiber and seed flax straws and produce fibers of good quality for industrial use. Work was also presented that could serve as a beginning fo ofiber standards. This work is important in offering a potential to develop environmentally friendly processing method to add-value to agricultural products, with objective judgements as to quality, and develop a new crop the southeast US for improved farm income.
Technical Abstract: An enzyme retting formulation and retting procedure for production of cottonized flax fibers have been developed and applied at the pilot scale level. Crimping of stems using fluted rollers and inclusion of chelators with pectinase-rich enzyme mixtures resulted in effectively retted stems from fiber and seed flax. Our tests indicate that seed flax residue could be a suitable source of enzyme-retted fibers for composites or perhaps for cottonized fibers. The methods used for testing cotton fibers, namely micronaire for fineness and Stelometer for strength, provided useful results to compare flax samples and could be employed as a basis for flax standards. Micronaire and strength values were similar for flax fibers from a range of sources. Flax fibers produced with our enzyme retting method, while significantly weaker than long line fibers, were similar to dew-retted, cottonized flax and to good quality upland cotton. With some seed flax stems, rigid sheets of cuticle appeared to bind bast tissue and prevent separation of fibers and fiber bundles. Therefore, the enzyme retting procedure may require modifications for particular sample types that are recalcitrant with the current procedure.