Did you know?
Its takes 37 kgs of banana stems to make 1 Kg of fiber .In banana plantations, after the fruits are harvested , the trunks or stem are discarded. Approximately a billion tons of stems and leaves are thrown away annually.Such quantities of waste is abundant sources for fibers. Using this reduces the need for any natural or synthetic fibers, which requires extra energy & resources for manufacturing.
Over the years the global consumption of banana fruit has quickly out paced the usage of banana fibers industrial production.
What Exactly is Banana Fiber?
Banana fiber is eco-friendly just like jute fiber. It is obtained from the pseudostem of the banana plant and is generally scrapped with the help of a knife.
Banana plant can be grown mostly in tropical conditions and thrives mostly in areas with a well-distributed rainfall throughout the year. The soil condition required by the banana plant should be loose, rich in humus and well-drained. There should also be a moderate amount of minerals in the soil.
Almost all the varieties of banana trees are made of fibers and each and every part of the banana plant has fibers of various strength, color and staple length that can be used for purposes.
Out of the 14 to 18 sheaths that are available in the stems, 4 to 6 sheaths yield coarse fiber and the outer 6 to 8 sheaths have soft shiny fibers and the innermost sheaths are the softest. In each of these sheaths, there are 3 distinct layers, the outer layer contains the epidermis and contains bundles of fibers dispersed in soft tissue medium. The middle layer contains water transporting vascular system and the inner layer consist of the soft tissues.
The quantity of the fiber in each sheath depends upon its location in the stem, so is its quality.
In the past, researchers have demonstrated the use of banana pseudo-stem and leaves can be used for extracting fibers on a small scale. In India, the fibers are being used for preparing handicrafts, ropes etc., which otherwise can be used for making fabrics, home furnishings, and good quality papers. The technology for extraction is well-developed in South India and Northeast parts of India has also adopted this technology from the South and has started the production.
Origin and History of Banana Fiber
Banana is essentially a hot climatic plant and its origin is said to be in the forest of Asia. The plant has now gained importance as a source of fiber. It is known for its use as a multipurpose plant that serves as food, fruit and fodder crop for cattle.
Besides being used for its fruit, its flowers and stems can be cooked, the plant provides fiber for manufacturing clothes, and its leaves are used as natural plates for serving food.
There is a wide variety of historic references to bananas. They are mentioned in ancient Hindu, Chinese, Greek and Roman texts. It is believed that the earliest written reference to banana is in Sanskrit and dates back to around 500 BC. Bananas are suspected to be the first fruit in the earth by some horticulturists. The origin of bananas is placed in Southeast Asia, in the jungles of Malaysia, Indonesia or Philippines, where so many varieties of wild bananas still grow at present.
How is Banana Fiber Extracted?
The banana fiber is extracted from pseudo-stem of the banana plant. The most common method practiced in most Indian villages is the method of hand scrapping. In this method, a metal blunt is used for scrapping the stem. However, there is a drawback in this method as the output is relatively low. Now there are machineries for a Banana Fiber Separator that extracts the fibers from the banana pseudo-stem sheaths. In countries such as like Philippines, Uganda, China, and Indonesia a systematic extraction of banana fiber is carried out. The process includes cutting down of the banana plant, then the trunk is peeled and the brown-green skin is thrown away only retaining the white portion. The white portion is processed into knotted fibers.
The fibers are extracted through hand extraction machine composed of either serrated or non-serrated knives. The peel is clamped between the wood plank and knife and hand-pulled through, removing the non-fibrous material. The extracted fibers are sun-dried which whitens the fiber. Once dried, the fibers are ready for knotting. To knot the fiber, each fiber is separated and knotted to the end of another fiber manually. This fiber can now be used for making various products.
What are The Characteristics of Banana Fiber?
According to research, it is indicated that the structure and properties of Banana fibers depend on different regions along the length and across the thickness of the truck. Here are a few characteristics of the banana fiber:
- Appearance of banana fiber is similar to that of the bamboo and ramie fiber.
- Chemical composition of the banana fiber includes lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose. It is a very strong fiber.
- It has smaller elongation as compared with other fibers.
- It has a lustrous appearance when it is extracted and it is lightweight with potent and fast moisture absorption, as well as releasing, capacity.
- The fiber is biodegradable and has no negative impact on the environment and thus can be categorized as an eco-friendly product.
Versatile Utility of Banana Fiber
Banana fiber is spun into yarns which make it perfect for packing material. Its solidity is sufficient and better than jute textures. The color of the inner fibers is also superior which makes it suitable for value-added fashion.
Banana fiber is also used for making ropes and cordage. It is resistant to sea water and has a natural buoyancy which makes it readily marketable. The fiber is used for making wall drilling cables, fishing nets, mats etc.
The banana fiber can also be made into garments, curtains, bedsheet, towels etc. as it has the good luster and moisture absorption property.
Beside this, it is also used to produce a variety of items such as hats, photo frames, trinket, boxes, gift bags, picture frames, handbags, belts, baskets, and sandals.