Exploring Banana Fiber for Eco-Friendly Ropes and Fabrics

Jim Crocker
27th April, 2024

Exploring Banana Fiber for Eco-Friendly Ropes and Fabrics

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • University of Douala study finds banana-plantain stalk fibers can make eco-friendly materials
  • These natural fibers can be turned into strong ropes and fabrics for soil reinforcement
  • The use of banana-plantain fibers could reduce reliance on synthetic, polluting plastics
The escalating production and use of plastics have been a double-edged sword for modern society. On one hand, plastics offer versatility and convenience, but on the other, they pose significant waste management and environmental health challenges[2]. As the world grapples with the repercussions of plastic pollution, including the release of harmful additives into the environment, scientists are searching for sustainable alternatives. In this context, a recent study conducted by the University of Douala[1] presents a promising development: the use of banana-plantain stalk fibers (BPSF) as a raw material for eco-friendly composites and geotextiles. The research explores the potential of BPSF in creating ropes and fabrics that could replace synthetic materials in various applications. The process begins with biological retting, a method of extracting fibers from plant stalks, which is followed by a three-strand twisting technique to produce ropes with optimized mechanical properties. These ropes can be woven into a fabric known as geostalk, suitable for soil reinforcement. A detailed examination of the fibers' characteristics was vital to understand how the extraction process affects their performance. Using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), the study revealed that BPSF is composed of cellulose microfibrils, hemicellulose, and lignin. These components are arranged in concentric layers, providing structural integrity to the fibers. Chemical analyses, including X-ray energy dispersion (EDS) and Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, confirmed the presence of carbon, oxygen, and mineral salts in the fibers. The latter could contribute to soil fertilization after the fibers degrade, adding an additional environmental benefit. The chemical composition of BPSF was found to be 40% cellulose, 21.5% hemicellulose, and 24% lignin, with smaller percentages of pectin, lip-soluble extractables, and water-soluble sugars. These constituents are crucial for the fibers' physical properties and their interaction with other materials in composites. Thermal analysis showed that BPSF begins to degrade at around 200°C, indicating a level of thermal stability that is advantageous for certain applications. Physical and mechanical properties of the geostalk were assessed through uniaxial tensile testing. The statistical analysis employed the Weibull distribution, a method often used to evaluate material reliability and quality. This analysis showed that the properties of the material improved from the microscale (individual fibers) to the macroscale (ropes and woven fabric). For instance, the mass per unit area of the geostalk was recorded at 1869 g/m2, with a tensile stress of 1281.05 ± 273 MPa and a maximum strength of 15.4 ± 1.74 kN/m. These figures suggest that geostalk is a strong and sustainable alternative to traditional geosynthetics. The implications of this study are significant. The use of BPSF could lead to a reduction in the reliance on synthetic materials that contribute to plastic waste[2]. The environmental impact of plastic additives, which can leach into the soil and water, causing pollution and health concerns, could be mitigated by adopting natural fiber alternatives like BPSF. Moreover, the degradability of these natural fibers aligns with waste management strategies aiming to minimize long-term environmental harm. In conclusion, the University of Douala's research highlights the untapped potential of banana-plantain stalk fibers as a sustainable material for composites and geotextiles. By harnessing the inherent properties of these natural fibers, we can address the challenges posed by plastic waste[2] and move towards a more sustainable future. The study not only showcases an innovative use of agricultural by-products but also paves the way for further exploration into eco-friendly materials that can reduce our environmental footprint.



Main Study

1) Investigation of chemical, physical and morpho-mechanical properties of banana-plantain stalk fibers for ropes and woven fabrics used in composite and limited-lifespan geotextile.

Published 30th April, 2024 (future Journal edition)


Related Studies

2) An overview of chemical additives present in plastics: Migration, release, fate and environmental impact during their use, disposal and recycling.


Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙