Renewable Fiber - The Basics

renewable fiber

What is renewable fiber? This article will address the basics of biodegradable, natural and chemically treated fibers. You'll also find information about their costs and biodegradability. Read on for more information. Listed below are the pros and cons of each fiber. Which one should you use? Weigh the benefits versus the cons to decide what's best for your business. And, as always, we'll include tips for making the best decision for your business.

Natural fibers

Today, approximately 32 million tonnes of natural fibers are extracted each year from a variety of plants and animals. These fibers are used to make various types of textiles, ropes, and twines. Since the dawn of civilization, natural fibers have played a pivotal role in human societies. They have been the basis for various types of packaging and communication. These fibers are also used for bio-diesel production.

The strength and durability of cellulosic fibers depends primarily on the composition and morphology of the plant. Depending on the plant, cellulose fibers can have different strengths and yields than other types of fibers. In addition, their mechanical properties are affected by the crystalline organization of the fiber. In order to understand how these fibers differ, it helps to understand the different characteristics of natural fibers.

A key benefit of natural plant fibers is that they are renewable and biodegradable. Most manufactured fibers degrade over time, causing pollution of water and soil. Global warming has also prompted a revival of interest in natural fibers, as many plant-based fibers have become available and are being processed. These materials can be used to make high-quality clothing, and they are biodegradable. In addition to their environmental benefits, renewable fibers are also a great source of raw materials for textile science.

The main sources of agrofibers are cotton, jute, and sisal. Other cellulosic fiber sources are similar in production volume, with jute and cotton being the most common. These materials are grown primarily in Asia, where cotton and jute are both most abundant. Sisal is the second most important source of agrofibers, with China and Brazil each producing 200 kilo-tonnes each year. The production volumes of other natural fibers are low and transient.

Chemical treatments

Natural fibres exhibit poor dimensional stability and poor moisture absorption, and surface treatments aim to improve bonding strength and stress transfer. Natural fibre-reinforced polymer composites exhibit various mechanical properties, which are highly dependent on the fiber properties. For instance, cellulosic fibres are frequently used as reinforcement for thermosets and thermoplastics. Chemical treatments enhance the mechanical properties of the composites. This article will discuss several types of surface treatments and their effects on renewable fibers.

Alkaline treatment has improved the mechanical properties of fibers. Alkali treatment increased the tensile strength and tensile modulus of fibers, and improved cellulose crystallinity. Both of these treatments have proved successful in increasing the strength of natural fibers. Nonetheless, competition with the food industry remains a challenge. Therefore, it is imperative to choose the right chemical treatment for renewable fibers. Here are a few examples:


As more people turn to sustainable solutions, biodegradability and compostability have become a key concern. While most bio-derived polymers are biodegradable, this characteristic does not always apply to renewable fibers. Biodegradability is important for some applications, such as in packaging. Biopolymers, or bio-based plastics, may have a lower carbon footprint than petroleum-based ones. Bio-based fibers are often more expensive to produce and require a higher level of energy and maintenance.

Barrier coatings on paper and packaging materials are typically made of oil-derived polymers, which contribute to the carbon footprint and compromise biodegradability. Biopolymers with high barrier properties are a key goal of research into sustainable improvements in paper and packaging. The state of the art in barrier coatings has been reviewed in a recent book chapter. Using renewable fibers in packaging is one way to achieve these benefits.


The costs of manufacturing carbon fibers from renewable fibers are prohibitively high. The energy intensive processes that are required to produce carbon fibers make them prohibitively expensive, which deters widespread use in the automotive industry. The cost of carbon fibers is an important issue, and the FoA aims to identify a cost-competitive technology pathway using biomass as the starting raw feedstock and bio-ACN as the target product. The goal of the project is to produce bio-ACN at less than $1.00 per lb and to enable overall manufacturing of carbon fiber for under $5.00 a pound by 2020.

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