Everyone gets curious as they hear about “Banana Fibers”, manyquestions arise. Really?! A fabric made from banana? How does it look like? How does it feel when we wear it? Our Country is blessed with the million metric tons of banana production every year, with lot of beneficial characteristics, Banana Fiber is making its place in the fashion industry. Many Fashion designers and clothing lines are making use of Banana Fibres in their upcoming projects. This fiber is perfect as it is eco -friendly and biodegradable.
India has the largest land under banana cultivation. During the year 2020, it accounted for around 32 million metric tons of Banana Production, which is an increase of about one million metric tons from the previous year. Currently the leading state producers of banana are Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Bananas are harvested two to four times a year and the stems are usually cut and thrown away. With so many benefits, This plant has been a source of high quality textiles for ages and is well known as MUSSA TEXTILE, as its scientific name is called MUSA ACUMINATA. According to archaeologists, the banana plant was first found in the Kuk valley of New Guinea around 8,000 BCE. The earliest evidence of banana fibres was found in the 13th century in Japan. In Japan, the fibres were used as a substitute for silk and were woven into garments. In Nepal, the outermost sheaths of the banana plant were used for making mats and sunshades. But Later its popularity faded as cotton and silk became popular. Banana fibre is not a new discovery but certainly a unique one.
In the olden days, the fibers were extracted manually. Firstly, the Sheaths were separated from the banana pseudo stems, then the sheaths were kept for retting for around 10 – 15 days. Then the retted sheaths were beaten manually to loosen the fibres, then they were washed, cleaned and kept for sun drying. This traditional practice, yields the best quality of fibre but its laborious and time consuming.
Revolution in the Banana Fiber Industry
The Banana Fiber separator is one of the innovative ventures incubated at TREC-STEP. The entrepreneur behind this venture is Mr. K. Murugan, who is a mechanical engineer. Due to the use of machine, we can see a fifty times increase in fibre production compared to manual process. It is user-friendly, cost effective and safe to operate. It produces 30 kgs of fibre per day. The machine processes the separated sheaths directly into the fibres. First, these sheaths from banana pseudo stem are put inside the machine one at a time. As the sheath is inserted, the Beater in the machine helps to open up the fibres. The Revolving drums inside the machine, separates the fibres from the short fleshy parts. Thus, when the sheath is pulled out, the fleshy part gets removed due to mechanism and fibres can be extracted. After collecting the fibres, they are washed and cleaned properly as they still contain a gummy substance and sun dried. The dried fibers are fed to the hooks of the spinning wheelfor the yarn formation. When the wheel is rotated, due to the spinning mechanism, the fiber gets twisted and is spun together. After spinning, it is wound over a bobbin or a spindle. But on a large scale, these fibers can be spun using almost any method of spinning. After yarn formation, it goes for weaving. Weaving process of banana fibers is same like all other fibers, it gets easily woven on handloom.
Banana Fibre Blends
Banana fibers get easily blended with both natural and synthetic fibres. Blend of 80% banana and 20% unbleached cotton fibers gives us a fabric which is lightweight and very pleasant to wear. This fabric can be easily used in garments and in home decoration. Blend of 50% banana and 50% bleached cotton fibers, gives us a fabric which has thick, original look, which is shinny at the same time. This fabric will suit for heavy garments, also it is good choice for soft furnishing products. Blend of 50% Banana and 50% wool, gives a fabric which is thick and warm, will be an amazing choice for winter clothes and coats. The blend of Polyester with banana fiber, at a 50/50 ratio gives the same look as cotton blend. Structured Banana Pineapple Silk, a blend of 50% of Banana and 50% of Pineapple, gives us a fabric which is soft yet structured. This blend is perfect for adding structure to a garment, or even they can be a best choice for lampshades.
It is a multicellular fiber with a chemical composition consisting mainly of cellulose, lignin, and hemi cellulose. The fiber has a scaly and cellular structure. In terms of physical properties, the banana fiber has good modulus of elasticity, tensile strength, and stiffness. The average fineness is 2400Nm. It is a strong fiber and has great moisture absorption quality. The appearance is shiny, which depends on the extraction and spinning processes.
Banana paper have a wide variety of applications. The most common banana fiber products today are rope and cordage. These fibres are mostly used in making handicrafts and home decoration. By increasing and decreasing the thickness of the paper we can get a variety of products from tissue paper to a thick card sheet. Sanitary Napkins is also one of its application; a lot of research is going on to make it is as a domestic product. Gujrat based Navsari Agriculture University conducted a Research; it was found that the paper made from this fibre has life of over 100 years, and can be folded as many as 3,000 times. Japan uses these fibres for the Yen currency. The second-generation Mercedes-Benz A class designed the spare tyre covered with polypropylene and thermoplastic embedded with banana fibres, which can withstand stone strikes and exposure to the environment. Tea bag paper is made from banana paper by decreasing its thickness to minimal. A Firm in Philippines has started producing face masks using banana paper and Another firm by using banana textile. A test by The Department of Science and Technology, tested banana fibre for filtration. The results showed that banana paper filtration rate is seven times better than cloth. It has lower water absorption than an N95 mask. The major applications are found in Textile Industry. A variety of sarees can also be made from banana fibers, or banana fibers blended with other natural fibers. But the cost of each variety depends on its extraction process, spinnability and the quality of fiber used.
Care of Banana Textiles
Banana cloth is somewhat prone to shrinking and colour bleeding. It needs to be washed with cold water. Machine wash can be done in 40°C, but mild detergent, which does not cause bleaching effect. Hang drying is the best way. While ironing, a low iron setting with no steam is recommended.
Can Banana Fibre be The GREEN APPAREL OF FUTURE?
Yes, fabric made from banana fibre can be termed as the next green apparel of the future. According to the researchers, the fabric can be cheaper than cotton and linen, if it is produced in large scale. In major banana-growing regions, discarded banana stalks sitting around every year are just waiting to be termed into useful textile. Fabrics made from these fibres have good shine, light weight, have quickmoisture absorption quality. It can work as an environment friendly substitute to many popular fabrics.
Can Banana Fibres lessen the demand for Cotton?
Everyone is aware of environmental hazards caused from the cultivation of conventional cotton. Cotton production is the second largest agricultural use of pesticides in the world which are known for cancer-causing chemicals. However, its demand in the global textile industry has not been affected. Banana fibre textiles can definitely lessen the demand for cotton to a large extent. But are not able to completely replace cotton, as also it works well when blended with cotton.
Extraction of Banana Fibres at home!
So first, I cut the whole stem, into a small piece, then separated the sheaths. Then I cut the sheath in vertical way. Then I removed the gummy substance, for that, I pressed knife over it and tried to remove the gum. Once the gum was completely taken out, I got very fine, shiny and strong fibers. I did this for the three parts of sheaths, like innermost, middle and outermost, and got to see three varieties of fibers. The difference between the three was the roughness, like the outermost fibers were very rough comparative to the other both, also, the fibers from innermost part were white, shinny and smooth, comparative to the other two. So, I braided the finest fibers and made a choker out of it!!
The recent environmental turbulence has made people realise the need to be environmentally responsible and accept eco-friendly fabrics. Banana fibre is a good alternative to all the synthetic and natural fibres. Since Banana fibre is fully plant origin natural product, it can be easily blended with other natural fibres, also can be easily dyed and printed. India will probably be the location where banana fibre textiles will make their first large public offering.
- https: / /www. f ibre2fashion.com/industry-article/7589/banana-fibre-green-apparel-of-thefuture#:~:text=Eco%2Dfriendly%20fabric%20of%20the,fabric%20from%20the%20banana%20fibre.
- https://www.fibre2fashion.com/industry-article/7654/banana-fibre-a-revolutionintextiles#:~:text=Organic%20banana%20 f i b re%2 0 is%20used,are%20made%20from%20banana%20fibre.
- https://www.text i l e s c h o o l .com/131/banana-fibers-naturalplant-bast-fibers/