Features, Characteristics and Application of Jute Fiber

Last Updated on 17/11/2021

Introduction:
Jute is one of the cheapest natural fibers and is second only to cotton in amount produced, and variety fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin. Jute is known as the “golden fiber” due to its golden brown color and its importance. Jute is the most environment-friendly fiber starting from the seed to expired fiber, as the expired fibers can be recycled more than once. Jute is a natural fiber popularly known as the golden fiber. It is one of the strongest of all natural fibers and considered as fiber of the future. Jute is a bast fiber used for sacking, burlap, and twine as a backing material for tufted carpets. It is a long, soft, shiny fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose, lignin, and pectin. Both the fiber and the plant from which it comes are commonly called jute. It belongs to the genus Corchorus in the basswood family, Tiliaceae.

jute plants
Fig: Jute plants

Jute fiber offers strength, low cost, high durability, and versatility. It has variety of end uses, for example to make hessian sacks, garden twine, ropes, and carpets. Jute is the second to cotton in world’s production of textile fibers. It is not only a major textile fiber but also a raw material for non-traditional and value-added products.

One such example is jute agro textiles. It is most popular in the agriculture sector to control soil erosion, seed protection, and weed control. It is used for technical applications in the area of geotextiles. Jute is being replaced by synthetic materials for many of these uses, but the biodegradation and sustainability are the main advantages of jute over synthetic fibers.

jute fiber
Fig: Jute fiber

Features of Jute Fiber:

  1. Jute fiber is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly.
  2. Jute is a natural fiber with golden and silky shine and hence called The Golden Fiber.
  3. Jute is the cheapest vegetable fiber procured from the bast or skin of the plant’s stem.
  4. It is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton, in terms of usage, global consumption, production, and availability.
  5. It has high tensile strength, low extensibility, and ensures better breathability of fabrics. Therefore, jute is very suitable in agricultural commodity bulk packaging.
  6. It helps to make best quality industrial yarn, fabric, net, and sacks. It is one of the most versatile natural fibers that has been used in raw materials for packaging, textiles, non-textile, construction, and agricultural sectors. Bulking of yarn results in a reduced breaking tenacity and an increased breaking extensibility when blended as a ternary blend.
  7. Unlike the fiber known as hemp, jute is not a form of (Cannabis). Therefore it can be much more easily distinguished from forms of Cannabis that produce a narcotic
  8. Jute is one of the most versatile natural fibers that has been used in raw materials for packaging, textiles, non-textile, and agricultural sectors.
  9. Jute stem has very high volume of cellulose that can be procured within 4-6 months, and hence it also can save the forest and meet cellulose and wood requirement of the world.
  10. The best varieties of Jute are Bangla Tosha – Corchorus olitorius (Golden shine) and Bangla White – Corchorus capsularis (Whitish Shine), and Mesta or Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) is another species with fiber similar to Jute with medium quality.
  11. Raw Jute and Jute goods are interpreted as Burlap, Industrial Hemp, and Kenaf in some parts of the world.
  12. The best source of Jute in the world is the Bengal Delta Plain, which is occupied by Bangladesh and India.

Characteristics / Properties of Jute Fiber:
Jute is a natural cellulosic fiber. It is the golden fiber of Bangladesh. Its important properties are discussed in the following table and sections.

Table: Properties of jute fiber

Parameter Value
Fineness 2–3 dtex
Diameter 15–25 μm
Fiber length 650–750 mm
Density 1.44 g / cm3
Moisture regain 13.75 %
Breaking strength 30–34 cN / tex
Elongation 2–8.2 %

Parameters are described below:

Length:
The reeds of Jute fiber vary from 3 to 14 feet long, depending on the grade, and they show taper from root to end. Thick reeds contain coarse fiber and thin reeds contain finer fiber. It constitutes with ultimate fibers of average length of 2.5 mm.

Fineness:
It is a coarse fiber. Its diameter varies from 6 to 20 μ.

Strength:
Fibers are not so strong when compared with some other bast fibers but have good tensile strength. Fibers are naturally hard and brittle and break off with abrasion. Resistance to mechanical wear is low and not durable especially on exposure in moisture reduces its strength. Its extension at break is 2%.

Color:
The best quality fibers are pale white or silvery grey, common qualities are brownish and greenish are inferior, roots are usually darker without any lustre. Better quality fibers shows matt and pitted surface with very poor strength.

Lustre:
Better quality fibers have fairly high lustre but inferior quality fibers shows matt and pitted surface with very poor strength.

Effect of Chemicals:

  • Water: Jute is a hygroscopic fiber, that is, it takes in or gives out moisture to its surrounding atmosphere. Under standard testing atmosphere, moisture content value is 12.8% and moisture regain value of this fiber is 14.6%.
  • Acid: This fiber is damaged by the action of strong acid hence wet processing on jute fiber is not done in acid medium.
  • Alkali: It is safe in alkali medium; hence wet treatment is done on alkali medium.

Effect of Biological Agents and Light:
It is attacked and damaged by the action of microbiological agents like bacteria, fungus, moths, insects, etc., in worm damp condition. Yellowing of the fiber is observed due to the effect of sunlight.

Application / Uses of Jute Fiber:
Jute is used for making yarn, twine, rope, sacking, cloth, hessian cloth, carpet backing cloth (CBC), carpet, mat, wall cloth, shopping bag and as packing materials. Jute is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton; not only for cultivation, but also for various uses.

  1. Jute is used chiefly to make cloth for wrapping bales of raw cotton, and to make sacks and coarse cloth.
  2. The fibers are also woven into curtains, chair coverings, carpets, area rugs, hessian cloth, and backing for linoleum.
  3. While jute is being replaced by synthetic materials in many of these uses, some uses take advantage of jute’s biodegradable nature, where synthetics would be unsuitable.
  4. Jute butts, the coarse ends of the plants, are used to make inexpensive cloth.
  5. Traditionally jute was used in traditional textile machineries as textile fibers having cellulose (vegetable fiber content) and lignin (wood fiber content). But, the major breakthrough came when the automobile, pulp and paper, and the furniture and bedding industries started to use jute and its allied fibers with their non-woven and composite technology to manufacture nonwovens, technical textiles, and composites.
  6. Jute can be used to create a number of fabrics such as Hessian cloth, sacking, scrim, carpet backing cloth (CBC), and canvas.
  7. Hessian, lighter than sacking, is used for bags, wrappers, wall-coverings, upholstery, and home furnishings.
  8. Sacking, a fabric made of heavy jute fibers, has its use in the name.
  9. Diversified jute products are becoming more and more valuable to the consumer today. Among these are espadrilles, floor coverings, home textiles, high performance technical textiles, Geotextiles, composites, and more.
  10. Jute is also used in the making of ghillie suits which are used as camouflage and resemble grasses or brush.

Thus, jute is the most environment-friendly fiber starting from the seed to expired fiber, as the expired fibers can be recycled more than once.

jute products
Fig: Jute products

Another diversified jute product is Geotextiles, which made this agricultural commodity more popular in the agricultural sector. It is a lightly woven fabric made from natural fibers that is used for soil erosion control, seed protection, weed control, and many other agricultural and landscaping uses. The Geotextiles can be used more than a year and the bio-degradable jute Geotextile left to rot on the ground keeps the ground cool and is able to make the land more fertile.

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