2005 Brazil Kenaf Project
Potential Kenaf Uses and Products
In 1960, the USDA chose kenaf from among 500 candidates as the most promising non-wood fiber for pulp and paper production. Kenaf reaches 12-18 feet in 150 days, while southern pine must grow 14-17 years before it can be harvested. Kenaf also yields more fiber per acre than southern pine producing 5-10 tons of dry fiber per acre, or approximately 3-5 times as much as southern pine (TX extension).
Kenaf has a fibrous outer bark and a very light but strong core. Kenaf has many uses. Typical yields in the USA are 5 to 7 tons per acre. Under good conditions in tropical regions potential kenaf yields could be in the range of 10 to 15 dry tons per acre. Kenaf has a fibrous outer bark and a very light but strong core. Dry kenaf is about 35% bast fibers and about 65% core fibers.
Kenaf has many uses. Some products can be made from whole stalk kenaf with includes both long and short fibers. Kenaf can also be decorticated to separate the bast and core fibers. Some products can be made using only bast fibers while other products can be made using only core fibers. Various uses of kenaf are listed below with brief descriptions in some cases.
· 1. Pulp and paper.
Research has shown that kenaf has excellent pulp and papermaking properties. Chemi-thermomechanical pulp made from wholestalk kenaf can be used to manufacture high quality. Newsprint. These tests have shown that kenaf paper is stronger, whiter, and capable of sharper photo reproduction and requires less ink than traditional wood pulp for printing newsprint (MSU/Fuller). Kenaf can be easily pulped and bleached with harmless chemical such as hydrogen peroxide. (Texas/Extension)
· 2. Coffee/tea filters. Japan
· 3. Hygienic tissues. Japan
· 4. Low density Particle Board. Core fibers (density 218 kg/m3) can be reduced to particles and bonded with adhesives into low density panels (240 kg/m3) (Sellers, et al. KPPP 1999). Kenaf core panels would make excellent ceiling tiles, decorative panel substratas, floor tile substrates and elements of certain structural components. (See Patent # 5,492,756). Low density panels made of kenaf core material can be upgraded with a wide array of surface treatments, including overlays.
· 5. Medium Density Boards. Research. Medium density fiber board (800 kg/m3) was made from whole stalk kenaf at Temple Inland plant in Texas, (Webber et al/KPPP). Dry-processed boards were made from pressurized refined whole stalk kenaf using phenolic resin and wax. (Muehl, et al. KPPP 1999). Some property values met ANSI/AHA A135.4 standards while others did not. The results indicate that kenaf panels can be made to perform at acceptable levels for certain hardboard application.
· 6. Kenaf-Polypropylene Composites. Research. Rowell et al, KPPP 1999. “Kenaf fiber is potentially outstanding reinforcing filler in thermoplastic composites…Results indicate that kenaf fibers are a viable alternative to inorganic/mineral based reinforcing fibers as long as right processing conditions and aids are used for applications where the higher water absorption of the lignocellulosic-based fiber composite is not critical.”
· 7. Textiles and Clothing. Bast fiber. Can be blended with cotton.
· 8. Automobile interior door panels and other components.
· 9. Livestock feed.
Immature kenaf leaves and stems are harvested when about 1 meter tall. Protein is from 15% to 25%, and is similar to alfalfa in protein and nutrition. Malaysia has done extensive research on kenaf animal feed. Japan wants kenaf protein feed because of potential mad cow disease using animal protein.
· 10. Environmental clean up and remediation. Can be used for oil spills. A cubic foot of kenaf core can absorb more than 1 gallon of oil.
· 11. Carpet backing.
· 12. Rope and twine. Bast Fiber
· 13. Bags. For produce and grain. In El Salvador bast fiber is used to make coffee bags.
· 14. Erosion and seeds mats.
· 15. Kenaf Media for growing mushrooms.
· 16. Potting Soil.
· 17. Thermal insulation.
· 18. Liner for hanging nursery pots. (bast fiber)