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Potential textile material found in fibers of 3 banana cultivars
Apr '10
Saba, Lakatan, and Bongolan bananas could be considered additional or alternative to Cavendish fibers as source of raw materials for textile manufacture.

In the study conducted by a senior science research specialist at the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) on the potential of fibers from the trunks of six banana cultivars—Saba, Lakatan, Bongolan, Pakil, Saksik, and Tordan—for textile production, Saba shows potential for high fiber yield based on this cultivar's low residual gum content.

Ms. Marites S. de Leon, the researcher, explained that the residual gum content is one of the major considerations in assessing cellulosic fiber's suitability for textile use. She stressed that fiber with very high gum content will not be economically viable for textile use because such fiber will require higher pretreatment inputs to attain the desired gum content level which results in low fiber yield. Among the six cultivars, Saba fibers have residual gum content close to that of the Cavendish fibers, which have been identified as suitable for textile purposes. The residual gum content of Bongolan and Lakatan, although significantly different from that of the Cavendish, is still within the acceptable gum content range.

In terms of strength, results of the study show that Lakatan was the strongest among the six cultivars, with mean tensile strength even higher than that of the Cavendish.

Fiber fineness was also observed in the six cultivars. Results proved that these fibers are coarse in both raw and degummed states. According to de Leon, these fibers could be processed into yarns limited to coarse counts, which may be fit for hand knitting, carpet making, and the like. When banana fibers are blended with cotton or polyester, the yarn could produce fabrics suited for apparel applications.

When processing indigenous fibers for textile applications, the raw fibers should undergo degumming, where gum content, or the non-cellulosic impurities on the fiber surface, is reduced to a desired level. The researcher emphasized the need for this treatment so the fiber strands are loosely bound and can be easily opened and separated from each other during carding, a step preparatory to spinning. Degumming removed about 80 percent of the non-cellulosic materials from the fibers of the six cultivars and the Cavendish.

The study also proved that degumming either improves or decreases the tensile strength of the fibers. While the said treatment strengthens pineapple, maguey, and kenaf fibers, tensile strength of banana fibers decreased by as much as 33 percent. Despite the decrease, the values obtained from the six cultivars were still acceptable based on the data from other indigenous fibers, which were successfully processed into textiles.

PTRI's banana, pineapple, and abaca fiber pretreatment technologies are up for commercialization as announced by Dr. Carlos C. Tomboc, PTRI director.

PTRI has recently been awarded ISO 9001:2008 certificate for satisfying requirements in quality management system and enhancing client satisfaction. The Institute is the Department of Science and Technology's lead agency in textile research and development.

Philippine Textile Research Institute

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