List of Eco-friendly Fibers in Textile Industry: Properties and Application
Pallavi Sunil Gudulkar
Department of Textiles (Textile Chemistry)
DKTE’S Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner
Environmental degradation and the resulting global warming are two of the most significant threats to species on this planet. In every field, industrialization is to responsible for these issues. It is essential to begin utilizing eco-friendly fibers in the production of eco-textiles. This article includes some of the eco-friendly fibers with their special properties and application.
List of Eco-friendly Fibers:
- Bamboo fiber
- Banana fiber
- Hemp fiber
- Lyocell fiber
- Ramie fiber
- Corn fiber
- Flax/Linen fiber
- Jute fiber
- Organic cotton
- Colored cotton
- Organic wool
- Alginate fiber
- Polylactic acid
1. Bamboo Fiber
Bamboo is a lingo-cellulosic bast fiber. Chemical composition and properties are similar to the other bast fibers like jute, flax. It contains cellulose (70-74) %, hemicellulose (12-14) %, lignin (10-12) %, extractives like protein, pectin, wax (2-3) %. Bamboo is a natural cellulose regenerated biodegradable textile material that is also environmentally friendly. It is not only a sustainable fiber, but it also possesses antibacterial and UV protection properties, making it a unique eco-friendly textile material in the twenty-first century. Due to its high tensile strength, durability, and stability, it is not only employed in conventional textile but also in high-performance end uses as a composite material.
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1.1. Manufacturing Process of Bamboo Fiber
There are two manufacturing methods of bamboo fibers,
- Chemical Process
- Mechanical Process
1.1.1. Manufacturing process by wet spinning
1.1.2. Manufacturing process by closed loop solvent spinning
1.1.3. Mechanical process
Bamboo fabric of the highest quality is produced using non-cellulose extraction methods. Instead, crushed bamboo wood fibers are treated with a natural enzyme before being washed and spun into yarn. The fabric produced by this method is commonly referred to as bamboo linen since the yarn has a smooth touch. It is true natural processing of natural bamboo fiber.
1.2. Physical Properties of Bamboo Fiber
|Dry tensile strength (cN/tex)||20–29|
|Wet tensile strength (cN/tex)||15–22|
|Dry breaking elongation (%)||14–18|
|Linear density (gm/cc)||1.32|
|Moisture retention (%)||12–13|
|Cross-section||Serrated with micro gaps and holes|
1.3. Applications of Bamboo Fiber
They are used for the formation of socks, under wears, T-shirts, bathing suits, bathing suit cover ups, towels, Sleep wear, face masks, sanitary napkins, bed sheets, pillows, baby diapers, bullet proof vests, table cloth, blinds, and mattresses. Due to its’ UV resistant property, it is used for making of apparel of pregnant women and children.
2. Banana Fiber
It is a well-known fact that banana is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Approximately 70 million metric tons of bananas are produced every year by the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. At present the banana fiber is a waste product of banana cultivation, therefore without any additional cost these fibers can be obtained for industrial purposes.
Banana plant not only gives the delicious fruit but also provides fiber for textile applications. The fiber 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 fibers with subsequent bleaching and drying. The fiber obtained has appearance similar to silk which has become popular as banana silk fiber yarn. In the recent past, banana fiber 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.
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Banana fiber has a similar appearance to bamboo fiber and ramie fiber, but its fineness and spinnability are superior to both. cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin constitute the chemical components of banana fiber.
- It’s a really strong fiber.
- Its elongation is shorter.
- Depending on the extraction and spinning procedure, it has a lustrous appearance.
- It’s light weight.
- It has a high capacity for absorbing moisture. It absorbs and releases moisture at a faster rate.
- It is biodegradable and has no negative environmental impact, making it an environmentally friendly fabric.
- It has a fineness of 2400Nm on average.
- It can be spun in a variety of ways, including ring spinning, open-end spinning, bast fiber spinning, and semi-worsted spinning, etc.
|Tensile Strength (Mpa)||529-914|
|Young’s Modulus (Gpa)||27-32|
|Specific Young’s Modulus (Gpa)||20-24|
Banana fibers had a very limited application in the past and were largely used to make ropes, carpets and some other composite materials. Banana fiber has been recognised for all of its good qualities as environmental awareness and the importance of eco-friendly materials has grown and its use is now expanding in various industries such as clothing garments and home furnishings. Since the 18th century, it has been used in Japan to make traditional costumes such as kimono and kamishimo (1600-1868). People there still like it as summer attire because it is lightweight and comfortable to wear. Fine pillow covers, Neckties, purses, table cloths, and drapes are all made from banana fiber. Silk rugs made from banana silk yarn are very popular.
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3. Hemp Fiber
Hemp fibers are considered as one of the strong members of bast natural fibers family, which are derived from the hemp plant under the species of Cannabis. With the greatest eco-friendly potential, these plants grow quickly and densely, making it impossible for weeds to hold. No pesticides or herbicides are required. Hemp does not deplete the soil and as a result, allows for long-term sustainability by keeping the land in excellent condition for subsequent crops. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent, more mildew resistant and more insulative than Cotton fiber. There are thirty varieties of Hemp fiber. It is a tall plant with a natural woody fiber. All these varieties resemble one another in general appearance and properties, but only those having fibers of high tensile strength, fineness and high lustre have commercial value.
|Fiber length (mm)||15-25|
|Fiber diameter (um)||22-25|
|Fiber fineness (tex)||0.25-0.52|
|Specific weight (gm/cm3)||1.47|
|Tensile strength (N tex-1)||0.53-0.62|
Coarse Hemp fibers and yarns are woven into cordage, rope, sacking and heavy –duty tarpaulins. In Italy, fine Hemp fibers are used for interior design and apparel fabrics. Hemp is used in tapestry, hats, shawls, rugs, posters, and towel. Dyed hemp yarn from Hungary is suitable for rug weaving, placemats, crochet and other craft items. It has been found that 3 plies, 6 plies, and 12 plies are used for weaving, knitting or crochet. Hemp is stronger than linen and jute fiber, hence it is ideal for making twine, ropes, cables, carpets, canvas, ship cordage, sailcloth, etc. Central American Hemp is chiefly used for cordage. Manila “Hemp” is a fiber from the leaves of the Abaca plant; it is very strong, fine, white, lustrous and, though brittle, it is adaptable for the weaving of coarse fabrics.
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4. Lyocell Fiber
This fiber is made from the biodegradable wood pulp using chemical-free processes. Non-toxic solvents are used in its production and then recycled, creating a manufacturing process with very little by-product. (However, it sounds like it still uses a ton of energy, so it’s not perfect.) It can be blended with other fibers to create fabrics like SeaCell (Lyocell and Seaweed, shown above) and Hempcel (Lyocell and Hemp).
Lyocell is a stable a fiber better than cotton or linen. Lyocell is more expensive to produce than cotton or rayon, but is included in many everyday items. Staple fiber is used in apparel items such as denim, chino, underwear, other casual wear clothing & towels. Filament fibers are used in items that have a silkier appearance such as women’s clothing and men’s dress shirts. Lyocell can be blended with a variety of other fibers such as silk, cotton, rayon, polyester, linen, nylon, and wool. Lyocell is used in apparels, home furnishing, technical textile and nonwoven.
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5. Ramie Fiber
Ramie is an important sustainable eco-friendly fibers. It is extremely strong and durable, being eight times stronger than cotton and even more so when wet. Ramie is a flowering plant that can be harvested up to six times in a single year once the flowers begin to bloom, which is when the plant’s fibers are taken for spinning. Ramie is resistant to bacteria, mould and mildew, as well as light, rot and insect attack. Pesticides and herbicides are not required for healthy growth.
- The ramie fiber resists germs and mildew growth and it is highly absorbent, making it comfortable to wear, especially in hot weather.
- It has a stain-repellent property.
- Milder acids have no effect on it.
- It has a high affinity for dyeing.
- Ramie’s strength increases while wet and it requires high water temperatures for laundering.
Ramie fiber is used in yams, clothing, men’s and women’s wears, paper manufacturing industry, packing accessories, carpets, industrial sewing thread, fishing nets, filtering industry, home furnishings, fire hose pipe of the clothes, parachute cloth.
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6. Corn Fiber
The manufacturing of polymer in corn fiber involves process of fermentation, distillation and polymerization of simple plant sugar (maize dextrose) on an industrial scale. First, the sugars are fermented. After fermentation, products are transformed into a high-performance polymer called polylactide, which can be spun or processed into corn fiber. The production and use of corn fiber create less pollution and fewer greenhouse gases.
- Corn fiber combines the best qualities of natural and synthetic fibers in an innovative method.
- In textiles, comfort, softness, and drape are balanced with strength and resilience.
- Corn fiber is naturally flame resistant and has excellent moisture control properties.
- It has a high stain resistance quality.
- Corn fiber is also naturally flame retardant and does not contain any chemical additions or surface treatments.
- Corn fiber’s stain resistance makes it an excellent carpet fiber for both the house and transportation.
- The melting point is 170°C.
- The heat setting is done at 125-130°C for 30 second.
- The polymer will degrade due to hydrolysis, especially in the presence of aqueous high-temperature and alkaline environments.
- It is completely biodegradable, compostable, burnable (without producing dangerous fumes) and recyclable.
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Corn fiber can be used both with woven and non-woven fabrics.
|Areas of Application||Examples|
|Apparel||Sports, casual wear t-shirts, fleece, jeans, shirting’s, trousers, duvet, jackets, jersey dressing, hosiery etc.|
|Home textiles||Blankets, carpets, pillows, duvets, mattresses, draperies etc.|
|Non-Woven||Cosmetics and diapers|
|Industrial applications||Geo textiles, Agro textiles etc.|
|other||Corn Fiber Socks|
This biodegradable fabric “offers the softness of silk, the touch of cashmere and the lightness of linen” and is created from white pine tree clippings. Because of its softness, absorption capacity and ability to release moisture and ability to sustain a higher thermal range, Lenpur stands out among the other cellulose fibers, keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. For a variety of reasons, Lenpur fiber and yarn deserve to be called “eco-friendly.” It is produced from farmed wood and does not come from an unsustainable deforestation cycle. In addition, only specific portions of the tree are chosen and selected. Harvesting takes place at the same time as normal cutting. This is what differentiates this fiber as valuable and unique.
- It’s self-mercerizing, which means it takes dye very well without any prior preparation or treatment (it has a 10-20 percent higher colour yield than synthetic fibers).
- Lenpur helps to reduce dye streaks and softens up even more after colouring.
- Lenpur is an ultra-pure cellulose fiber (99.8% pure) and biodegradable.
Lenpur is used in clothing, underwear, socks, and home accessories, and is said to have thermo-regulatory, odour-eliminating, and absorbent properties. It is used in light and medium knitwear, underwear, orthogonal fabrics, Socks, Technical fabrics, Furniture fabrics, Seamless garments
8. Seacell Fiber
This fiber is made up of wood pulp and seaweed (algae). It activates by diffusing its protecting and anti-inflammatory properties into the skin while also increasing metabolism. It’s as though the clothes have a life of their own! It’s all really interesting. It contains microscopic marine algal fiber particles that help with cellular regeneration.
- It absorbs sweat faster than cotton.
- It gives anti-microbial,anti-bacterial and odour reducing property
- Home textiles such as linens, pillows and blankets
- Sleepwear and underwear
- Sport clothing
- Leisure clothing
- Child and infant clothing
Jute is a long, soft, shiny bast fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin. It is also known as golden fiber. The Golden Fiber has gained immense popularity around the globe because of its bio-degradable character.
9.1. Properties of jute fiber
- It is 100% bio-degradable recyclable and thus environment friendly
- It is natural fiber with golden & silky shine
- It is the second most important and widely cultivated vegetable fiber after cotton
- It has high tensile strength with low extensibility this helps to make best quality industrial yarn and fabric for packaging
- It is very versatile natural fibers that has been used in raw materials for packaging, textiles, non-textile, and agricultural sectors
- Jute stem has very high volume of cellulose that can procured within 4-6 months, and hence it also can save the forest and meet wood requirement of the sustainability.
- Jute fiber has some unique physical properties like high tenacity, bulkiness, sound & heat insulation property, low thermal conductivity, antistatic property etc.
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Jute fibers are used for making carpet, apparel, composites, upholstery furnishings, decorative colour boards. Non-woven jute fabrics carry applications in meditech, agrotech, protech, geotextiles and many.
10. Nettle Fiber:
Nettle fibers come from nettle plant stem. The grass is first dried, and after the outer surface is peeled, the fibers are extracted. It is then boiled in water. The fiber is then beaten continuously. Nettle fabric is perfectly safe to wear, and in fact, is a highly luxurious and sustainable textile.
10.1. Properties of nettle fiber
- Finer than Hemp
- More eco-friendly than cotton
- Remarkable high tensile strength
- Soft and Silky to wear
- Naturally Fire-Retardant
- Strong white thread made from nettles is used for fishing lines and nets
- Cloth Paper
- Used in many Italian fashion houses
- Was used during WWI for German uniforms when cotton was scared. These had to be lined or they would irritate the skin.
- Jeans, Jackets, Shirts and Dresses
Eco-friendly fibers are becoming increasingly popular as they are more environmentally friendly and sustainable. They offer a wide range of applications due to their excellent inherent properties.
- Bamboo Fiber Processing, Properties, and Applications Sameen Ruqia Imadi, Isra Mahmood, and Alvina Gul Kazi
- Eco-fibers in the Textile Industry by Harun Venkatesan and Aravin Prince Periyasamy
- Handbook of Properties of Textile and Technical Fibres, Second Edition Edited by Anthony R. Bunsell
- Textile Engineering – An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.