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Abaca Fiber: A Renewable Bio-resource for Industrial Uses and Other Applications

  • Waseem Shahri
  • Inayatullah Tahir
  • Burhan Ahad
Chapter

Abstract

Of the various fibers obtained from natural sources, fibers obtained from abaca offer a great potential to be used as a renewable bio-resource for various industrial or extra-industrial applications due to their high mechanical strength, durability, flexibility, and long fiber length. The fiber is obtained from the leaf sheaths or petioles of the abaca plant (Musa texitilis), a plant native to Asia (Philippines). The plant grows well in shady and humid areas (altitude below 500 m and temperature 27 °C) and requires well-drained loamy soil for cultivation. It can be propagated by seeds, suckers or corm, or through tissue culture techniques. Since the cultivation of abaca is mainly confined to Philippines and other adjacent areas, it has also been introduced to other regions like Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. The topmost producer of abaca fiber is Catanduanes province. As far as its extent of cultivation is concerned, it is being grown on about 172,524 ha providing employment to a large number of farmers and other associated traders, exporters, or manufacturers. The harvesting and extraction of fiber from abaca is laborious process which involves many operations like tuxying, stripping, drying, and final processing. Stripping and drying of fibers is either done manually or mechanically. After extraction, different grades of fibers are obtained which are then accordingly used for different set of industrial activities. Abaca fiber is chemically composed of cellulose, pectin, lignin, and significant quantities of glycerides, ketones, fatty acids, and other compounds. Being regarded as the strongest natural fiber in the world, it can be put into various modern sophisticated technologies like automobile industry and as a raw material for other important industries like paper and pulp industry, textile industry, and furnishing industry, besides being used as a fuel. Now-a-days, abaca-reinforced polymers are used and preferred over synthetic polymers. In the ecological perspective, the products obtained from abaca fibers are eco-friendly and the production of abaca-fiber composites is energy-efficient as it has been found to save 60 % energy besides reducing CO2 emissions. Moreover, abaca plantations are used to prevent soil erosion and in promoting biodiversity rehabilitation. Waste material produced from abaca plants is also used as organic fertilizers to replenish the soil fertility.

Keywords

Bio-resource Cordage Eco-friendly Fiber Polymer Propagation Textile 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of KashmirSrinagarIndia

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