A consortium of five Egyptian researchers has developed PalmFil, the world’s first high-performance fibers and reinforcements extracted from the byproducts of pruning date palms, such as fronds and fruit stalks, according to a press release from the PalmFil Consortium. PalmFil is sustainable, economical in manufacturing, compatible with textile and composite processing, and even offers the properties needed for lightweight cars of the future.
Dr. Mohamad Midani, partner, PalmFil Consortium, says that the research helps to reverse the shift from natural to synthetic fibers to meet increasing demand going back to the 1980s. “There is a need to explore more sources of natural fibers and increase the biodiversity of fiber crops,” he says. “There are more than 140 million date palms mostly concentrated in the Middle East and North Africa, generating yearly more than 4.8 million tons (dry weight) byproducts of pruning regarded as agriculture waste. This represented a burden on palm growers and was the main cause of fire accidents and infestation by dangerous insects. Those byproducts could otherwise be transformed into 1.3 million tons per year of natural textile fibers, ranking third after cotton and jute.”
There have been previous attempts to extract fibers from date palm byproducts through crushing and grinding, which resulted in biomass rather than textile fibers. The PalmFil Consortium succeeded in extracting the first long textile fiber from such byproducts and converted it into fiber tow, chopped fiber, spun yarn/roving, nonwoven mat, woven fabric and unidirectional tape. The new fiber represents a sustainable material base for a wide spectrum of industries, including natural reinforcements for composites in automotive and sporting goods, plaster reinforcements in construction, burlap sacks for packaging, ropes, twines, non-wood papers and other consumer products. For more, visit www.palmfil.com.