Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/6/2007
Publication Date: 4/24/2007
Citation: Foulk, J.A. 2007. Natural cotton and flax fibers. [abstract]. Presented at the 2007 Nonwoven Fabric Conference, Greenville, SC, June 7, 2007. p.14.
Technical Abstract: The origins of cotton (Gossypium barbadense L. or Gossypium hirsutum L.) and flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) are somewhat of a mystery. Cotton currently maintains a 65 % share of the consumer textile market while flax maintains about 2-3 %. Cellulose is a major component in these crops ranging from 95 % in cotton (one of natures purest forms) to 71 % in flax. Many similarities exist between these two plant fibers but the fibers and mandatory processing vary greatly. Cotton fibers arise from the outgrowth of single cells and are produced in the seedpod around the cottonseed while flax fibers originate in the phloem (bast region) and provide an important food-conducting tissue for the plant. Cotton is concentrated in the cotton boll and must be harvested and ginned prior to textile processing. Alternatively, bast fiber content in a flax stem is ~25% and must be harvested and dew-retted, and then fibers must be extracted from the non-fiber materials using an assortment of rigorous techniques prior to textile processing. A collection of test methods for marketing fibers has recently been initiated for flax fibers, while testing techniques and marketing continue to evolve for cotton. Various types of fibers are blended with cotton providing specific properties that complement and add value to cotton. The use of natural fibers in industrial applications continues to increase with the potential for both cotton and flax fibers to be utilized in textiles, nonwovens, composites, and paper products.