What is Banana Fibre?
Banana fibre is a biodegradable, natural fibre obtained from the stem and pseudostem of the banana plant. Though the plant is mainly grown for their fruits, the research carried out led to a very useful fibre that can be recovered from the ‘pseudostem’ of the plant. The stem usually grows up to a height of 3m. It is one of the strongest plant fibres and has a variety of potential applications in the textile, paper, and construction industries.
It is a well-known fact that banana is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Banana plant not only gives the delicious fruit but also provides fibre for textile applications. The fibre is obtained after the fruit is harvested. The small pieces of banana plant trunk are put through a softening process for mechanical extraction of the fibres with subsequent bleaching and drying. The fibre obtained has appearance similar to silk which has become popular as banana silk fibre yarn. In the recent past, banana fibres had a very limited application for making items like ropes, mats, and some composite materials. With the increasing environmental awareness and importance of eco-friendly fabrics, it is finding applications in other fields such as apparels and home furnishings.
At present the banana fibre is a waste product of banana cultivation, therefore without any additional cost these fibres can be obtained for industrial purposes. The chemically treated banana fiber reinforced composites exhibited superior mechanical properties.
The banana leaf produces two types of yarn: Pinukpok and Abaca. Pinukpok is derived from veins within the leaf, and it is a coarse fibre and creamy in colour. Abaca is derived from the leaf stem, and it is coarser than Pinukpok with a straw-like texture. The fibres are between one and three metres in length, lustrous and brown, red, purple or black depending upon the plant variety and position of the stalk. The main producers of this fibre are the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and many countries in Europe.
Types of Banana Fibre:
There are two main types of banana fibre:
- Musa textilis or abaca fibre, which is obtained from the stem of the banana plant.
- Musa sapientum or common banana fibre, which is obtained from the fibrous part of the banana plant’s leaves.
Properties / Characteristics of Banana Fibre:
Banana fibre is a versatile and eco-friendly material derived from the leaves and stems of banana plants. The fibres are normally rough and coarse in nature very similar to jute fibres. The quality of the fibres recovered from the stem is usually better. Like Kenaf, the fibres from outer stem are comparatively coarser, whereas, those from deep inner fibres are much softer.
Though very light in weight, the fibre is strong having strength varying between 29 and 30 g/den and its breaking elongation is around 6.5%. The moisture-regain value is high (around 13%). The speciality of this fibre is that it both absorbs and releases moisture quickly.
It has several unique properties that make it a popular choice for various applications. Here is the important properties of banana fibre:
- Strength: Banana fibre is strong and durable, making it suitable for various textile and industrial applications.
- Biodegradability: It is biodegradable and environmentally friendly, meaning it decomposes naturally in the environment.
- Moisture Absorption: Banana fibers have high moisture absorption capacity, making it breathable and comfortable to wear.
- Anti-bacterial: It has natural anti-bacterial properties that make it ideal for medical and hygiene applications.
- Elasticity: Banana fibre has good elasticity, which gives it a natural stretchiness and makes it ideal for use in clothing.
- Lightweight: These fibres are lightweight, making it easy to handle and work with in various applications.
- Softness: Banana fibre is soft and comfortable, making it suitable for use in clothing and home textiles.
Uses / Application of Banana Fibre:
Banana fibre is used in apparel garments and home furnishings. Being little rough in nature, ropes, mats and some composites are also made from it. It is being used in building construction, geo-textiles and even in sound engineering for sound-proof boards. Hand-made papers are made from the pulp of banana fibres. The paper made from bark is often used for artistic purpose.
Banana fibre has a wide range of applications. Here are some of the most common uses of banana fibres:
1. Textile Industry: Banana fibres are commonly used in the textile industry to produce clothing, accessories, and home textiles. The fibre’s softness, elasticity, and moisture absorption properties make it ideal for use in clothing and bedding products. It is also commonly used to make table runners, placemats, and other decorative textiles.
2. Industrial Applications: These fibres are often used in industrial applications due to its strength and durability. It is commonly used to reinforce concrete, to make ropes, twines, and mats, and as a raw material in the production of paper.
3. Agriculture: It is used in agriculture to make mulch and as a natural alternative to synthetic fibres in the production of compost. It helps to regulate soil temperature and moisture, promoting healthy plant growth.
4. Medical Applications: It has natural anti-bacterial properties, making it ideal for use in medical and hygiene applications. It is commonly used to make surgical masks, gowns, and other medical textiles.
5. Automotive Industry: Banana fibre is used in the automotive industry as a lightweight and sustainable alternative to synthetic fibres in the production of car parts and components.
6. Packaging: They are used in the packaging industry to make biodegradable and sustainable packaging materials. It is also used to make bags, boxes, and other types of packaging products.
7. Art and Crafts: Banana fibres are also used in art and craft projects, due to its natural beauty and texture. It is commonly used to make baskets, coasters, and other decorative items.
- Handbook of Properties of Textile and Technical Fibres, Second Edition Edited by Anthony R. Bunsell
- Fibres to Fabrics by Bev Ashford
- Textile Engineering – An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab
- Principles of Spinning: Fibres and Blow Room Cotton Processing in Spinning by Ashok R. Khare
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