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Technology Advancements Will Increase Sisal Fiber Demand

blog-1 Sisal fiber – plant fibers including jute, flax, and hemp – has been increasing in demand for industrial uses. Applications for automotive, construction, marine and renewable energy range from composite materials reinforcements to strengthening recycled paper.

Sisal, combined with polyurethane, forms a material called “resin moldings” being used in linings and structural components for car interiors. These plant fiber-based trim parts, panels, seat backs, and shelves reduce vehicle weight, consume less energy to produce, and cost less that other materials.

Aside from the composite parts, sisal buffing cloths are popular since they are strong enough to polish steel and soft enough not to scratch it. Mercedes-Benz uses the composite in its C-class production at their facility in South Africa, and Daimler-Chrysler group enjoys better sustainability ratings as well as employment ratings when sourcing sisal from local producers.

It makes sense that the sisal-reinforced composite materials are also beginning to be used in boats and other forms of transportation by replacing the conventional polymer composite fibers with sisal as reinforcement in plastic water tanks, portable toilets, casings and storage containers.

Greater mechanical properties and anti-moisture qualities make sisal fibers an excellent option for reinforcing composite building materials such as fiberglass, rubber, and cement. They can substitute wood products, particle and insulation boards, and corrugated roofing sheets. Sisal-reinforced cement used in roofing sheets and tiles is environmentally friendly, unlike asbestos fibers, known to be carcinogenic.

The Indian Railways are testing applications for composites to manufacture doors, luggage racks, panels, partitions and seating along with packaging materials for boxes, bags, and other containers, usually made of wood.

Sisal and other natural plant fibers such as jute are widely used in geotextiles to prevent soil erosion and establish vegetation on banks and slopes. They are bio-degradable which is a property synthetic fibers such as polypropylene, polyester, and PVC lack. Products include separators, containers, filters for drainage, silt fencing, tension membranes and other forms of lining road sub-base and asphalt overlays. In these, sisal stands a better chance than other natural fibers, when it comes to durability. Geotextiles using sisal or other natural fibers could be two to five times cheaper than the synthetic polymer counterparts.

Sisals high strength-to-tear ratio makes it a great fit for the paper industry where the fibers are used to strengthen pulp from non-wood sources, soft and hardwoods, as well as recycled paper. Sisal fibers make especially durable carpets and rugs, an ingredient of human food and animal feed, cosmetics and medicine.blog-2

By-products from sisal extraction can be used for making biogas. A biogas power plant has been established at Hale by Katani Ltd in Tanzania. Bacteria in cow dung interacts with crop residues to create biogas then used to generate electricity, fuel for transport and farm machinery, and cooking and lighting. Waste from this process is high in nitrogen, potassium, and calcium and is sold as fertilizer for the next generation of sisal crops. Sisal continues to be a relevant product around the world

This entry was posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2016 at 8:58 am and is filed under Go Green, Industrial Packaging.

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