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Palm fruit Fiber extraction , spinning, dyeing, and characterization

The project has won 5th position in Textile Talent Hunt 2013


Uses of different natural fibers have gained importance in the recent years due to ecofriendly nature. Moreover, by 2020 the world total fiber demand will be 102.4 million metric tons. Use of the wastage of food crops as alternative source of raw materials for clothing is a good solution to meet up this demand. Palmyra palm fruit fiber could be a good source of natural fiber. Asian palmyra palm or Asian palm is known as Tal/Taal in Bangladesh. The main objectives of this paper are extraction of fiber from the palm fruit, characterization of collected fiber, produce yarn from the fiber and then characterization of yarn. The fiber shows a good dye take up in dyeing with both reactive and basic dyes. The micronaire value ranges from 7.58-7.68. The strength, elongation and moisture regain% of fiber is very good. The strength of yarn in case of both ring and rotor is good. The breaking force of yarn in case of ring is 400.00cN/tex and in case of rotor 327.00 cN/tex. The elongation percentage is good in both cases. It could be widely used in various applications such as heavy fabrics, fancy items, non-woven, decorative purpose, disposable bags, home textile and different value added items.

1. Introduction

Environmental awareness, new rules, and legislation are forcing to seek new materials that are ecofriendly and do not have any harmful effect on environment. For the past several years, public attention has gone on natural fibers as a resource due to the fast growth. Now-a-days, natural fibers are widely used as reinforcements both in partially and totally biodegradable natural fiber Composites. Natural fibers like, cotton, coir, sisal jute etc. have attracted the attention of scientists and technologists.1Fig1: World fiber production by 2020 (amount in million metric tons)

From figure 1, it is seen that in the year 2010 world fiber demand was 73.8 million metric tons this will be 102.4 million metric tons by 2020. But experts show that world total fiber production will be 97.1 million metric tons including wool 1.2 million metric tons, cotton 28 million metric tons, synthetic 57.9 million metric tons and others 10 million metric tons. So there will be a gap between demand and supply, which is about 5.3 million metric tons. Experts believed that cotton production will be limited to 28 million metric tons due to the reduction of arable land and limitation of water availability.

We know that first basic two needs of human beings are food and cloth. The meeting process of these two is contradictory to each other. If we grow more raw materials for clothing then we will have less land to grow food crops. If we can able to use the wastage of food crops as alternative source for clothing, then it will be a good solution to meet up the fiber demand. Such type possible new sources are banana, pine apple fiber, betel nut husk fiber etc.

This paper introduces a new fiber source which is Palmyra palm fruit. Although there have been numerous studies on different natural fiber only a very little references are available on Palmyra palm fruit fiber.Natural fibers are an alternative resource to synthetic fibers as reinforcement for polymeric materials for the manufacture of cheap, renewable and environmental friendly composites. The year 2009 has been assigned by the UN to be the international year of natural fibers[1].

The promotion of the use of natural fibers as CO2 neutral resource is believed to contribute to a greener planet. The transition towards a bio-based economy and sustainable developments as a consequence of the Kyoto protocols on greenhouse gas reduction and CO2 neutral production offers high perspectives for natural fiber markets. Plant fibers from agricultural crops are renewable materials which have potential for creating green products and replacing synthetic materials which are currently being used such as glass fiber, carbon fiber and plastic fibers. Among others, natural fibers (e.g., flax, jute or sisal) reinforced materials have important significance for reduction of density in automobile construction components due to its higher specific stiffness and specific tensile strength. Many attempts were made by the scientists and technologists to utilize natural fibers in the fabrication of composites. The low cost, less weight and density makes the natural fibers an attractive alternative. In recent years, due to increased awareness, extensive studies have been done on various new natural fibers such as sisal, pineapple, banana, oil palm, areca nut etc.

1.1 A brief view of Palmyra Palm (Borassus spp)[2]

Borassus (Palmyra Palm) is a genus of five species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and New Guinea. They are tall palms, capable of growing up to 30 meter high. The leaves are long, fan-shaped, 2 to 3 m in length. The flowers are small, in densely clustered spikes, followed by large, brown, roundish fruits.

The 5 species of Borassus are

Borassus aethiopium – African Palmyra Palm (tropical Africa)

Borassus flabellifer – Asian Palmyra Palm (southern Asia)

Borassus heineanus – New Guinea Palmyra Palm (New Guinea)

Borassus madagascariensis – Madagascar Palmyra Palm (Madagascar)

Borassus sambiranensis – Sambirano Palmyra Palm (Madagascar)

1.2 Scientific classification[2]

Kingdom                       Plantae

Division                        Magnoliophyta

Class                            Liliopsida

Order                            Palmaceae

Family                          Palmae

Genus                           Borassus L.

Species                        Borassus flabellifer

1.3 Botanical description[2]

The Palmyra palm is a member of the family Palmae which includes evergreen trees. It is a long-lived plant that may live as long as over 100 years. It is one of the most important homestead and plantation crops of Bangladesh with multipurpose uses. The botanical description of this plant is cited under the following heads according to Morton

2Fig 2: Palm tree


The palmyra palm is a large tree up to 30m high and the trunk may have a circumference of 1.7m at the base. It erect, woody and unbranched stem with no secondary thickenings. In most of the varieties it takes 3 to 4 years to develop a stem above the ground.


There may be 25-40 fresh leaves. They are leathery, gray green, fan-shaped, 1-3 m wide, folded along the midrib; are divided to the center into 60-80 linear- lanceolate, 0.6-1.2 m long, marginally spiny segments. Their strong, grooved petioles, 1-1.2 m long, black at the base and black-margined when young, are edged with hard spines.

1.3.3. Fruits[2]

Each palm may bear 6-12 bunches of about 50 fruits per year. An average crop of B. flabellifer in Ceylon is 350 fruits. The coconut-like fruits are three-sided when young, becoming rounded or more or less oval, 12-15 cm wide, and capped at the base with overlapping sepals. The outer covering is smooth, thin, leathery, and brown, turning nearly black after harvest. Inside is a juicy mass of long, tough, coarse, white fibers coated with yellow or orange pulp. Within the mature seed is a solid white kernel which resembles coconut meat but is much harder. When the fruit is very young, this kernel is hollow, soft as jelly, and translucent like ice, and is accompanied by a watery liquid, sweetish and potable.

3Fig 3: Palm fruit

1.3.4 Inflorescence[2]

Palms generally start to form inflorescences at the beginning of the dry season (November to January). The male and female inflorescences are carried on separate trees: the male tree begins to develop the inflorescence in November or December while the female tree commences one to two months later. Each palm may bear from eight to fifteen inflorescences per year. The male inflorescence lasts approximately 45 to 60 days and the female 60 to 70 days. Both male and female inflorescences are “tapped” for juice collection. Some palms, especially the female, also have inflorescences during the rainy season.

1.4 Geographical distribution and habitat[2]

It grows wild from the Persian Gulf to the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; is commonly cultivated in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China South-Central, India, Jawa, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Malaya, Myanmar, Socotra, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Thailand, and Vietnam, South and Southeast Asia and occasionally in other warm regions including Hawaii and southern Florida. In India, it is planted as a windbreak on the plains The Palmyra palm has long been one of the most important trees of India, where it is used over 800 different ways. In India, Borassus is a very important palm, and it has been estimated that as many as 40 million palms may be growing in Tamil Nadu State alone, making it one of the most common trees in India, ranking second only to the coconut palm.The leaves are used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas, and writing paper. The stalks are used to make fences and also produce a strong, wiry fiber suitable for cordage and brushes. The black timber is hard, heavy, and durable and is highly valued for construction. The tree grows well in poor acidic sandy soils and produces juice during the dry season in regions where plant growth is negligible in the absence of irrigation. The palm tree receives no agronomic inputs other than what is applied to companion crops.

1.5. Palmyra production in Bangladesh[2]

Palmyra palm is produced over the country in Bangladesh as homestead crop; however, the major Palmyra palm producing areas of Bangladesh are- Roadside in the village area, Aills of agricultural field and homestead areas.

1.7 About Palm Fiber

The fiber is extracted from the palm fruit. The chemical compositions of the fiber are α-Cellulose 53.4%, Hemi-cellulose 29.6% and Lignin 17%[3]. The amount of Hemicellulose can be decreased by treating with strong alkali[3]. The strength of fiber is 70.8 MPa, Modulus 10.8 GPa and Elongation 34.8%[3]. The strength, modulus and elongation can be increased by alkali treatment[3]. The fiber can be dyed with both reactive and basic dye. It can be used instead of synthetic fiber where more strength is necessary, e.g. blending with cotton fiber it can be used to produce fabric which reduce cost and increase strength.

2. Materials and methods

2.1 Materials

Palm fruits are collected from Jessore and then the fibers are extracted from fruit. Reactive dyes, basic dyes, salt, acetic acid, sodium acetate, soda ash, stabilizer, hydrogen peroxide, wetting agent, sequestering agent, leveling agent are used from Southeast University Laboratory.

2.2 Method

2.2.1 Fiber extraction

At first the ripe fruits are collected. Then the blackish husk is removed. The seeds are separated from each other with fiber. The fibers from the seeds are collected with a sharp blade which contain yellow mesocarp and can be eaten raw or baked, often being mixed with sugar. The mesocarp is washed off by water. Then the washed fiber is boiled with normal water at a temperature of 1000C to remove gum like material from the fiber and finally dried in the sun. About 30g fiber can be collected from a fruit by hand.

4Fig 4: Fiber

2.2.2 Scouring and bleaching

The fiber is scoured and bleached in the same bath. At first 5g of fiber is taken, then scouring and bleaching is done in open bath with the following recipe:

Hydrogen peroxide                                4g/L

Stabilizer                                               1g/L

Sodium hydroxide                                 3g/L

Wetting agent                                        1g/L

Sequestering agent                               1g/L

Temperature                                          1000C

Time                                                     30 min

PH                                10.5-11.0

M:L                                                       1:40

2.2.3 Dyeing

2.2.3(1) Dyeing with Reactive dye

At first 5g of fiber is taken. Then the fiber is dyed with following recipe

Dye                                                      2%

NaCl                                                     20g/L

Soda ash                                              5g/L

Wetting agent                                        1g/L

Sequestering agent                               1g/L

Temperature                                          800C

Time                                                     30min

PH                                                        10.5

M:L                                                       1:20

After that soaping is done with the following recipe

Soaping chemical                                  4g/L

Temperature                                          800C

Time                                                     10min

Then the dyed fibers are dried. After drying it can be said that, dyes take up quality of the fiber is very good.

5Fig 5: Dyed fiber with reactive dye

2.2.3(2)Dyeing with basic dye

At first 5g of fiber was taken. Then it was dyed with the following recipe

Basic dye                                               2%

Sodium acetate                                    1.5g/L

Acetic acid                                            1g/L

Wetting agent                                      1g/L

Sequestering agent                             1g/L

Temperature                                        800C

Time                                                     30min

M:L                                                      1:20

Then the dyed fiber is washed with hot water for 10 minutes at 900C. After that the fiber is dried and it can be said that the dye take up% is very good.

6Fig6: Dyed fiber with Basic dye

2.2.4 Spinning of grey fibers

Process flow chart7-flow

2.2.4(1) Opening

The fiber is opened by Shirley opener at Bangladesh University of Textiles.

7Fig 7: Opening of fiber by Shirley opener

2.2.4(2) Carding

The fiber was input in mini carding available at Bangladesh University of Textiles but the card web is not formed. Then the fiber is blended with cotton at a ratio of 60:40 of which 60% is cotton and 40% is palm fiber. Then the blended fiber is input to the carding machine and finally card web is formed.

8Fig 8: Carding of fiber by mini Carding

2.2.4(3) Drawing

The card web was placed into prototype draw frame for making sliver. After obtaining the sliver it is plied into four ply. The plied sliver is again fed into same draw frame for doubling.

9Fig 9: Drawing and doubling of fiber by mini draw frame

2.2.4(4) Spinning in ring frame

After doubling some amount of sliver is directly input into ring spinning machine due to unavailability of mini simplex. The ring yarn is obtained directly from the sliver.

10Fig10: Spinning of fiber directly from drawing sliver in Ring frame

2.2.4(5) Spinning in Rotor

The rest amount of sliver is fed into rotor situated at Rahmat Spinning Mills Ltd. The rotor yarn is obtained directly from the sliver.

11Fig 11: Open end spinning

3 Technical Data

3.1 For fiber

Only hot washed palm fiber is used for tests. At first tests are carried out in Uster HVI 1000 in Gulshan Spinning Mills Ltd. All the value were out of range. Then the fiber is tested with Uster HVI 500 at Al Haj Karim Textile. Two samples were collected randomly from the available fiber which shown only the micronaire values.

Table1. Specifications of fiber

table-13.2 For yarn

The tests of yarn were carried out at Southeast University laboratory, Gulshan Spinning Mills Ltd. and ITS.

Table2. Specifications of yarnstable-2

Table3. Breaking force of rotor yarn ISO-2062

table-3Table4. Breaking force of ring yarn ISO-2062table-4

5. Results and Discussion

Palmyra palm fruit fiber is a lignocellulose fiber. It is a long staple fiber. The length of fiber cannot be measured by Uster HVI because it is designed only for short staple fiber. Table1 shows that the micronaire value of the palm fiber is about 7.63 which is near about the coarser cotton fiber. The fiber can be dyed by both reactive dyes and basic dye. By visual estimation it can be said that, dye take up and fixation in both cases is very good.

12Fig12: Comparison of strength of different fiber

From figure 12 it is seen that strength of palm fiber is about 4.2 g/den which is only below the polyester among all those fiber.

13Fig13: Comparison of elongation% of different fiber

From figure 13 it is seen that elongation % of palm fiber is more than cotton and viscose.

14Fig14: Comparison of moisture regain% of different fiber

From figure 14 it is seen that moisture regain% of palm fiber is more among all the fiber in the chart except wool. Palmyra palm fruit fiber is long staple fiber. The fiber without blending with cotton cannot be processed with the machinery which is developed only for cotton fiber processing. It is not possible to make yarn by using only this fiber in ring spinning frame as well as open end spinning frame. But after blending with 60% raw cotton it is possible to make both ring yarn and rotor yarn. It can be stated that by visual estimation the uniformity of yarn in both ring and rotor is comparatively poor. It happened because drawing and doubling is carried out in same machine and doubling is done by using only four ply of drawn sliver. The ring yarn is normally finer than rotor yarn. But table2 shows that, the count of ring yarn is 7Ne and count of rotor yarn is 10Ne though both the yarn is produced from the same sliver. This is happened because of producing ring yarn directly from sliver. Table 3 and table 4 show that breaking strength of rotor yarn and ring yarn 327.0cN/tex and 400.0cN/tex respectively. The breaking strength in both cases is relatively good. The strength can be increased by changing TPI and other parameters. The strength of yarn is comparatively low because of using low quality cotton in blending. By blending uniformly with high quality cotton fiber and use of synthetic fiber in blending desired strength of yarn can be obtained. The elongation % of ring yarn is 6.81 which are nearer to elongation percentage 6.83% of 40 tex jute cotton blended yarn where cotton is 80% and jute is 40% [6]. The yarn can be widely used inn heavy fabric, fancy items, decorative purpose, non-woven, geo-textiles etc.

6. Conclusion

Palm fruit used worldwide in 800 different ways. It is used to produce jam, jelly, cake etc. which generate a huge amount of fiber as wastage. The prime objective of this study is to explore the potential use of Borassusfruit fibers in textile. The properties of fiber are determined. The fiber shows a good dye take up rate, strength, elongation% and moisture regain%. The fiber cannot be processed alone in cotton processing machine but by blending with cotton both ring and rotor yarn can be produced. The strength of yarn in both cases is relatively good. The strength of yarn depends on various parameters. By changing these parameters increase of strength is possible. The palm fiber can be used effectively instead of synthetic fiber which (synthetic) causes environmental pollution severely. This fiber can be an important source of non-woven textiles where strength is crying needs. By surface modification the fiber can be used alone without blending. The fiber can be used in geotextiles as well as in other reinforcing textile materials and in different value added items.

7. References

  1. “Environmental Benefits Of Natural Fiber Production and Use” Jan E.G. van Dam Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  2. http://forestrysust.blogspot.com/2008/12/palm-tree-in-bangladesh.html
  3. “Studies on Borassusfruit fiber and its composites with Polypropylene” P. Sudhakara, K. Obi Reddy, C. Venkata Prasad, Dani. Jagadeesh, H.S. Kim, B.S. Kim,S.I. Bae, and J.I. Song,Composites Research, 26(1), 48-53(2013), pISSN: 1598-6934
  4. “Pulp and papermaking potential of Palmyra fruit fibreBorassusflabelifar”Ogbuagu A. S.*, Ekpunobi U. E., Onwuka T. N. and Okoye N. H., Der ChemicaSinica, 2013, 4(2):19-24
  5. “Use, Production and Conservation of Palm Fiber inSouth America: A Review” Carolina Isaza, Rodrigo Bernal and Patricia Howard, J Hum Ecol, 42(1): 69-93 (2013)
  6. “An Investigation on the Effect of Machine of Spinning Machine on the Physical Properties of Blended Yarn” Ph. D Thesis, Dr. A N M Ahmed Ullah, JU
  7. “Tensile Test Analysis of Natural Fiber Reinforced Composite” G. Velmurugan, D.Vadivel, R Arravind, S.P. Venegetasan, A. Mathiazhagan, International Journal of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (IJMIE) ISSN No. 2231 –6477, Vol-2, Iss-4, 2012
  8. Pulping and paper properties of Palmyra palm fruit fibers” WaranyouSridachSongklanakarin J. Sci. Technol. 32 (2), 201-205, Mar. – Apr. 2010

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