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item Akin, Danny
item Rigsby, Luanne - Lowe

Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/7/2002
Publication Date: 9/15/2002
Citation: Adamsen, A.P., Akin, D.E., Rigsby, L.L. 2002. Chemical retting of flax straw under alkaline condition. Textile Research Journal; Vol. 72(9), pp. 789-794.

Interpretive Summary: Efforts to improve the current process of extracting flax fibers from stems is expensive and requires research into new chemicals and cost effective quantities. In conjunction with a visiting scientist from Denmark, research was undertaken to test several types of chelators at various concentrations for their effect on fiber extraction and the resulting fiber rproperties useful industrial applications. Data showed the best chelators and the least amounts required to achieve the processing goals. Results showed that combining chelators with enzymes for enzyme-retting gave the best results and supports major work toward developing this process commercially.

Technical Abstract: More controllable retting procedures to produce quality fibers from flax are sought by applying chelators at high pH and enzyme-chelating formulations at lower pHs. Using the Fried Test as an in vitro method for evaluating fiber separation from shive, EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) at 8-mM levels and sodium tripolyphosphate at 50-mM levels, both with h25mM NaOH, effectively retted flax stems. Sodium gluconate, trisodium phosphate, and sulfuric acid were ineffective as retting agents. In 50-g laboratory scale retting trials, chemical retting at high pH with EDTA or sodium tripolyphosphate gave fine fiber yields (as produced through the Shirley Analyzer) about half that with enzyme-chelator formulations; fibers were coarser from chemical vs enzyme-retting. Chemical retting was influenced by chelator type and level, sodium hydroxide levels, and plant condition and maturity. These factors plus resultant fiber properties require consideration in optimizing chemical retting with chelators at hig pH.