Submitted to: International Conference on Flax and Other Bast Plants
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/30/2008
Publication Date: 7/20/2008
Citation: Alcock, M., Fuqua, M., Ulven, C., Kerr-Anderson, E., Foulk, J.A. 2008. A comparison of Fibre Characteristics between Linseed Flax, Canadian Grown Linen Flax and European Linen Flax with Respect to Performance as a Composite Reinforcement. Fiber foundations - transportation, clothing and shelter in the bioeconomy. International Conference on Flax and Other Bast Plants, July 21-23, 2008, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. p.258-269.
Interpretive Summary: The Agricultural Research Service of USDA has a priority to develop and expand use of sustainable, environmentally friendly biobased products, such as natural fibers, for a variety of industrial applications. Flax fiber offers many possibilities towards this goal, but the US currently does not have a flax fiber industry and all fiber for textiles and composites is imported. These first attempts at correlating flax fibre quality and biofibre composites contain the initial steps towards identifying key flax fibre characteristics that influence composite performance and recognizing the differences and similarities between fibres from different crop and processing sources. An understanding of these fibre characteristics that influence composite performance could lead to the development of additives, coatings, binders or sizing suitable for natural fibre and thermosetting materials. Further understandings of these desired fibre characteristics could lead to ASTM International standardized test methods for the marketing of flax fibres to various industries and a marketing system for flax fibres.
Technical Abstract: This paper describes the fibre character differences that may influence the fibre’s potential as a composite reinforcement. Fourteen linseed samples were tested. Twelve of the sample groups were produced using hammer mill technology and straw from the years 2000, 2006 and 2007 with ranges in cleanliness and level of ret. Three samples were decorticated by scutching to optimize length and straightness of the fibres. In the total fourteen linseed flax specimens, different levels of retting were selected with one linseed specimen processed green, another was water retted and a third was spring baled. The linen straw grown in Canada was from a test plot and was processed by scutching. Three samples of European linen flax and one Canadian sourced linen flax sample were tested to identify factors that might be unique to linen varieties. The fibre characterization test program was extensive, identifying differences in colour, strength, diameter, degree of ret, degree of kink, fibre content, and elongation, to name a few. In addition to these tests, some component tests were conducted to determine the pectin, lignin, wax and cuticle content of the fibres. The fibre characteristics that are determined to be the most influential in composite performance will be discussed along with the implications that their the characteristics have for composite applications.