Managing retting to improve flax fibre characteristics

(6/7/2010 18:00)

This paper explores the potential for the bast fibres, flax and hemp, to play a more important role in apparel and industrial textile end uses. Recent research on improving the extraction and processing of flax and hemp indicates that the production of fibres of consistent and improved properties is economically possible within the EC.
The fundamental (ultimate) fibres that make up the fibre-bundles in the outer cortex of flax and hemp plants have attributes that are attractive to short-fibre spinners for incorporation into blends with cotton and other fibres, for use in apparel. Bast fibres are also attractive to the manufacturers of composites because of their favourable mechanical properties. Despite its potential, short-fibre flax is only used in speciality apparel yarns and, in industrial applications, flax and hemp are seen as low cost fibres suitable only for low-performance applications. Problems with consistency of quality and regularity of supply inhibit the use of these fibres in many potential end uses. The research reported here is based on work undertaken to improve fibre quality and minimise inconsistencies. The problems associated with fibre extraction are discussed and low-cost methods are reported for improving the management of retting, so as to aid decortication, minimise variability in quality and eliminate the loss of quality caused by over-retting.
The choice of variety is discussed. Results are reported on the retting parameters and fibre quality characteristics for 85 different fibre flax accessions (seed lines).

By: RJ Harwood, I Booth & JL Wyatt Textile Engineering and Manufacture (TEAM) Research Group, De Montfo

Submit Date: 6/7/2010 18:00

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