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Title: Production of flax fibers for biocomposites

Author
item Foulk, Jonn
item Akin, Danny - Light Light Solutions Llc
item Dodd, Roy - Clemson University
item Ulven, Chad - North Dakota State University

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/16/2011
Publication Date: 4/12/2011
Citation: Foulk, J.A., Akin, D., Dodd, R., Ulven, C. 2011. Production of flax fibers for biocomposites. In: Kalia, S., Kaith, B.S., Kaur, I., ediotrs. Cellulose Fibers: Bio- and Nano-Polymer Composites-Green Chemistry and Technology. 1st edition. Heidelberg, Germany:Springer-Verlag. p.61-75.

Interpretive Summary: Natural fibers for many and varied industrial uses are a current area of intense interest. Production of these fibers, furthermore, can add to farmer incomes and promote agricultural sustainability. Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.), which has been used for thousands of years, is unparalleled in supplying natural fibers for industrial applications as diverse as textiles and paper, providing high value linseed and fiber from a single plant, and maintaining sustainable agriculture in temperate and subtropical climates for summer or winter production, respectively.

Technical Abstract: Natural fibers for many and varied industrial uses are a current area of intense interest. Production of these fibers, furthermore, can add to farmer incomes and promote agricultural sustainability. Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.), which has been used for thousands of years, is unparalleled in supplying natural fibers for industrial applications as diverse as textiles and paper, providing high value linseed and fiber from a single plant, and maintaining sustainable agriculture in temperate and subtropical climates for summer or winter production, respectively. Flax production is environmentally responsible with no insecticides and low herbicides usage, good erosion control, and low fertilizer requirements. The bast fibers (3,000 times longer than its diameter) are produced in the outer regions of the stem, having a fiber content of ~25%. Industrial advantages for natural fibers are a lower cost, low density, biodegradability, relatively high strength, low abrasiveness, abundance, renewability, non-hazardous nature, recyclability, and low equipment requirements. As a value-added replacement for glass fiber from a renewable resource,flax fiber is recyclable, biodegradable, and sustainable for the economy, ecology, and society. Stems of flax, as well as other bast plants, require retting to separate fiber to separate fiber from non-fiber components and rigorous mechanical cleaning to obtain industrial-grade fibers. As a natural agricultural product, flax's chemical and physical properties, which influence fiber production, processing, and utilization, cannot be completely controllled. Consequently, Consequently, fiber processing and use in composites are affected by variables such as length, uniformity, strength, toughness, fineness, surface constituents, surface characteristics, and contaminants. One of the main concerns for the composite and other industries in incorporating natural fibers, such as flax, into production parts is the fiber variability resulting from crop diversity, retting quality, and different processing techniques. Standardized methods to assess flax fiber properties, therefore, are needed to maintain quality from crop to crop and provide a means to grade fibers for processing efficiency and applications.