Currently, separation processes used for natural fibres for composite reinforcing textiles cause a significant amount of damage to the fibres. Microscopic analysis showed that industrially processed flax (Linum usitassimium L.) fibres contained significantly more defects than green or retted ones and that further mechanical processing did not significantly increase the amount of defects. In this study it has been shown, by analysing the degree of polymerisation of cell wall components indirectly by viscosity measurements, that mechanically induced defects do not significantly cleave the cell wall polymers. Acid hydrolysis, however, induced more degradation of the cell wall polymers in fibres having a greater degree of damage, indicating that that defects are more susceptible to certain chemical reactions and which in turn might cause problems for example, during chemical modification of fibres due to heterogeneous reactivity. Analogous findings were observed in hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) fibre damaged in the laboratory under controlled conditions, emphasising the need to develop extraction and separation processes that minimise mechanical damage to the fibres.
- Natural fibre
- Mechanical processing