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item Akin, Danny
item DODD, ROY
item Foulk, Jonn
item Morrison Iii, Wiley

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/6/2005
Publication Date: 6/6/2005
Citation: Akin, D.E., Dodd, R.B., Foulk, J.A., Morrison III, W.H. 2005. Flax research in the US: production, retting, processing and standards. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference for Renewable Resources and Plant Biotechnology, June 6-7, 2005, Poznan, Poland. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Interest is increasingly globally for the use of natural fibers, like flax, in a variety of applications. The US, while using a high amount of such fibers, does not have a flax fiber industry. Researchers in USDA collaborated with university scientists in a research project on production, enzyme-retting, mechanical cleaning, and development of standards to judge quality. This paper is a review of research to date for an international audience desiring information on natural fibers. The outcome will be sharing of information and development of associations for furthering research and application of flax fibers.

Technical Abstract: Growing interest in use of natural fibers exists throughout many regions 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 efforts are emerging to develop a flax fiber industry. While the opportunities bode well for such an industry, research is needed to overcome key limitations, and these efforts hopefully will be beneficial globally. Topics addressed in our research include: 1) improved retting particularly through use of enzymes for consistent, high-quality, and tailored fiber properties, 2) mechanical fiber cleaning integrated with retting, and 3) objective standards and test methods 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. Four standards have been approved and listed through ASTM International and work continues on other test methods for fiber properties.