Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #178951


item Akin, Danny
item Dodd, Roy
item Foulk, Jonn
item Morrison Iii, Wiley

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2005
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Global interest is high for use of natural fibers for a variety of industrial applications, but barriers exist to efficient retting (i.e., fiber separation), cleaning, and objective and unform judgement of quality. Research with ARS and university scientists has addressed these areas and made progress toward a domestic flax fiber industry. This publication reviews progress in each of these three areas and addresses future needs and directions. Information is useful in putting forth a strategy and will elicit suggestions and comments from European colleagues who have similar interests.

Technical Abstract: Growing interest in use of natural fibers exists in many parts of the world. Flax (Linum ustitatissimum L.) provides bast fiber from diverse sources that can supply needs for multiple industrial applications. The US is a potentially large consumer of these fibers, and an industry is just beginning to emerge. While the opportunities bode well for a flax fiber industry, research is needed to overcome for key limitations. A collaborative project has been active in research for development of an efficient flax fiber industry using diverse sources and include: 1) improved retting, especially with enzymes, 2) mechanical fiber cleaning integrated with retting, and 3) objective standards to judge fiber quality. Progress has been made in each of these areas. An enzyme-retting method has been developed to pilot plant level but must be improved based on cost and fiber properties. A USDA Flax Fiber Pilot Plant, based on the ‘Unified Line’ but modular and more flexible in design, has been established for the first stage of mechanical cleaning. The Flax and Linen subcommittee of ASTM International has developed four standards and continues work on standards for other properties.