Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/26/2013
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: The use of sustainable natural fibers as a substitute for fossil fuel derived fibers is of importance from an environmental impact and sustainablilty aspect. In this study, natural fibers from cotton gin waste, sorghum stover, kenaf, hemp, rice straw, swithchgrass, and flax were processed and blended to produce biodegradable packaging material designed to replace polystyrene packaging. The blended products were evaluated based on nine scenarios that varied the level of importance of four response variables: 1) Compressive Strength, 2) Modulus of Elasticity, 3) Dynamic Energy Absorption, and 4) Density. Results showed the optimal blend(s) depended on the importance of each response variable relative to the other response variables. The natural fiber blends had desirable performance characteristics, but the blend and quantity of each natural fiber needed to produce the physical and mechanical properties sought after varied based on the importance of each response varible in producing the preferred characteristics.
Technical Abstract: Polystyrene is non-biodegradable and has environmental issues associated with its disposal. A replacement for polystyrene that is biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and has similar performance characteristics is of interest to many ecologically minded companies and consumers. This study utilized a proven technology inoculating a biomass substrate with a fungal species from the basidiomycete group to produce preformed packaging. The technology was used to evaluate eight biomass materials (kenaf fiber and pith, hemp pith, rice straw, switchgrass fiber, sorghum stover fiber, cotton carpel fiber, and flax shive) and subsequent blends to optimize physical and mechanical properties. Results indicated optimal blends of two to four biomasses, depending on end-user specifications.