An Egyptian research team has reached for the first time to produce textile fibers from the by-products of palm trees, such as palm leaves, argon and others, which they called “PalmFil” fibers, which are a new addition to natural fibers, and an increase in the biodiversity of the already existing limited fiber crops.
An abundance of by-products
The research team – led by Dr. Mohamed Al-Midani, an assistant professor at the German-Egyptian University, and under the guidance of Professor Hamed El-Mousaly, professor of part-time production engineering at Ain Shams University – found a great opportunity to take advantage of date palm by-products to obtain sustainable tissue fibers.
The number of this tree exceeds 140 million palm trees worldwide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It produces large quantities of by-products exceeding 8.4 million tons per year, often as agricultural waste, and is burned in the fields. Open.
The research team – with diverse experience in the field of fiber science, textile technology, and fiber-reinforced composite materials engineering – began the project development plan since the end of 2016, working on proving the concept and developing the prototype that is now ready.
During that period, the team published several research papers in some of the most prestigious scientific journals, such as Industrial Crops and Products (Elsevier), Cellulose, and Materials Research Progress (MRF), in addition to a book Entitled “Date Palm Fiber Composites”, under publication in Springer.
Dr. Muhammad Al-Midani and his team held an electronic scientific symposium, which was posted on YouTube on September 19, to talk about the development of work in the applied and marketing research of fibers, under the title “Supporting the Transformation to Natural Fibers: The Palm Phil Model”.
Renewable materials and sustainable development
In the symposium, Al-Midani quoted his teacher Al-Mawsili as saying that renewable materials, in addition to renewable thinking, lead in the presence of appropriate conditions to sustainable development, and science must be used to discover untapped materials in the environment around us and to adapt them to serve and distinguish society, and this is what led the research team to reach these The result.
According to the paper published in the Journal of Industrial Crops and Products in September 2020, the growing demand for more sustainable and renewable materials has led to an increased interest in natural fibers, which are not only environmentally friendly, but also have high properties due to their light weight.
Palm trees in general – not just date palms – are sources of natural fibers that produce vast quantities of by-products for annual pruning, making them one of the most natural sources of fiber available.
Al-Midani says in the symposium that synthetic fibers have dominated our daily lives and uses, as their annual consumption has reached more than 50 million tons, due to the increasing global need resulting from the increase in population and welfare rates.
He adds that the global production of natural fibers has reached a level of stability due to dependence on very few natural resources and the lack of biodiversity, which has contributed to this. However, the global market has returned during the past 10 years to search for new sustainable sources of natural fibers.
Unique apps and features
Field, Ph.D. in fiber and polymer science from the University of North Carolina says; The by-products of palm trees represent the basic raw material in the past for many traditional industries and crafts, but they are shrinking and shrinking.
Palm Fill textile fibers have emerging applications, such as natural fiber reinforcement compounds, thermal insulation panels and biodegradable tableware, while the established markets are carpets and carpet backs, gypsum board reinforcement and paper from non-wood sources, in addition to traditional applications such as burlap sacks, ropes. .
Also, these fibers have many unique features, as they are sustainable and 100% biodegradable, and are sourced from renewable sources that do not cause deforestation and do not compete with the production of food crops.
It is also one of the most abundant plant fibers, coming in third place after cotton and jute, and “Palm Ful” does not require any additional investments in water, fertilizers, pesticides or agricultural land, because it is obtained from byproducts of date palm pruning.
The fibers are also distinguished by their high performance, high tensile strength and high ability to absorb vibration, as well as have a higher sound insulation capacity than glass and carbon fibers, in addition to high efficiency in thermal insulation, as they are superior to those of carbon fibers, as well as being lightweight And safe.
Manufacture of “Palm Ful” fibers
Palm Fill relies on a special technology developed by the research team to extract high-purity long textile fibers from date palm byproducts, such as gourd and argon.
During the operation, the lignin and heme cellulose adjacent to the vascular fibrous bundles are removed, the fibrous bundles are split into fine fibers and the internal cavity is eliminated, without causing any damage or breakage of the fibers.
Palm Fill technology can be generalized to extract textile fibers from by-products of pruning other palm species, such as oil palm, coconut and dom, in addition to other agricultural residues such as sorghum.
Palm Fil fibers were spinning on a complete industrial line in the Egyptian Industrial Center for Linen. The Suez Canal Ropes Company of the Suez Canal Authority showed great interest in modern Palm Fil fibers, and French companies showed interest in using the fibers in sound and thermal insulation.
The team believes in the promising future of “Palmville” fibers, which represent a revolution in the world of natural tissue fibers, and whose annual market value has been estimated at more than $ 2.5 billion.
The team, through its company, Intexive, is seeking a partnership to continue developing, expanding and commercializing Palmville technology. Bearing in mind that potential partners are auto companies, machine manufacturers, spinning and winding lines, development organizations, government agencies and research funding organizations.
The return of “Palm Fell” goes beyond the economic aspect to the social return, such as creating job opportunities, supporting sustainable development opportunities, protecting the environment from the palm waste fire, and even finding an environmentally friendly alternative to existing synthetic fibers.