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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #93056


item Akin, Danny
item Rigsby, Luanne - Lowe

Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/25/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: There is commercial interest in developing a flax/linen industry for the US, but major problems are consistent retting and quality standards. Researchers at the Russell Research Center and the Department of Textiles, Merchandising, and Interiors, University of Georgia evaluated enzymatic retting formulations and testing methods for flax standards in a series of tests. Results identified an optimal retting formulation and showed that cotton testing methods had promise for use in grading flax. Information is important in establishing new methods and standards for developing a flax/linen industry in the US.

Technical Abstract: Flax, which was mechanically treated in an opener-blender to disrupt stem integrity, was enzymatically retted with a series of enzymatic formulations using different levels of Flaxzyme with or without ethylenediamine-tetra-ac acid (EDTA) as a chelator. Samples were then characterized by light and transmission electron microscopy and fiber tests for micronaire, strength (g/tex), and elongation. Unretted cotton fibers were off scale fo micronaire and consisted of fiber bundles with associated epidermis/cuticle fragments. Structurally, the lowest level of Flaxzyme used, i.e., 0.05% (w/v), plus 50mM EDTA produced ultimate fibers and bundles of various sizes without evidence of associated epidermis/cuticle. This formulation resulted in flax fibers having similar micronaire values and about 34% more strength than that of the recommended level of 0.3% Flaxzyme. A level of 3.0% Flaxzyme extensively removed middle lamellae from the bundles, produced the smallest micronaire values, and reduced strength to about 30% of fibers treated with 0.05% Flaxzyme plus chelator. Variations in fiber properties by the different formulations suggested that degradation of pectin varied for different regions of the bast tissues and that specific strategies for improving enzymatic retting could be developed. Results showed that fiber quality for cotton were useful in differentiating formulations for enzymatic retting of flax, and 0.05% Flaxzyme plus 50mM EDTA was the most efficient retting formulation.