Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability

A special issue of Fibers (ISSN 2079-6439).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2023) | Viewed by 38954

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA
Interests: natural fiber utilization; advanced fibrous and particulate materials for functional and enhanced textile structures; cotton technology; fiber quality; textile processing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural fibers have, since antiquity, been a vital component of human civilization. For millennia, clothing made of animal and plant fibers has both adorned and protected the human body from its environment. Natural fiber textiles have also served as furniture, decoration, and structural elements of human living spaces.

Despite the historical versatility and functionality of natural fibers, the advent of synthetic materials during the 20th century has gradually and radically reversed their dominance of the global textile market. In 1960, natural fibers represented about 80% of all textiles consumed in the world. Today, the global market share of natural fibers is approximately 25%.

In recent years, environmental concerns have come to the forefront in consumers’ consciousness. Today, more and more consumers demand sustainable textile alternatives that sever the overreliance on non-renewable petroleum resources and reduce the incidence of non-biodegradable synthetic wastes that persist in aquatic ecosystems almost indefinitely. These trends represent an opportunity for natural fibers to regain competitiveness and offer renewable and sustainable alternatives not only in apparel and home textiles, but also in non-conventional textiles such as biocomposites.

This Special Issue of Fibers intends to cover recent research relevant to natural fiber competitiveness and sustainability. It solicits contributions from researchers interested in natural fiber utilization and innovation, in inter-fiber competition, as well as in opportunities and challenges relevant to natural fiber sustainability.

Prof. Dr. Mourad Krifa
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Fibers is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • natural fibers
  • biodegradability
  • sustainability
  • inter-fiber competition
  • cotton
  • wool
  • cellulosic fibers
  • biocomposites
  • consumer preference
  • renewable resources
  • biomaterials

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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17 pages, 5565 KiB  
Article
Investigation of the Effect of Chemical Treatment on the Properties of Colombian Banana and Coir Fibers and Their Adhesion Behavior on Polylactic Acid and Unsaturated Polyester Matrices
by Ismael Barrera-Fajardo, Oswaldo Rivero-Romero and Jimy Unfried-Silgado
Fibers 2024, 12(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib12010006 - 3 Jan 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1891
Abstract
In this work, the adhesion behavior of chemically treated banana and coir Colombian fibers embedded in polylactic acid (PLA) and unsaturated polyester resin (UPR) matrices was investigated. Both types of fibers were treated with a 5 wt.% sodium hydroxide solution for one hour. [...] Read more.
In this work, the adhesion behavior of chemically treated banana and coir Colombian fibers embedded in polylactic acid (PLA) and unsaturated polyester resin (UPR) matrices was investigated. Both types of fibers were treated with a 5 wt.% sodium hydroxide solution for one hour. The properties of treated and untreated fibers were determined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and tensile tests. To evaluate the adhesion behavior of the fibers in PLA and UPR matrices, pull-out tests were performed, and the percentage of broken fibers was determined. The results showed that alkaline treatment improved the fibers’ physicochemical, mechanical, and thermal properties. In addition, the alkaline treatment was able to improve the adhesion behavior of coir and banana fibers to PLA and UPR matrices. The banana fibers showed a percentage of broken fibers of 100%, while the coir fibers showed a slight increase in IFSS value. This behavior is attributed to the improvement in surface roughness due to the removal of non-cellulosic composites and impurities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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28 pages, 6763 KiB  
Article
Reducing Plastic in Consumer Goods: Opportunities for Coarser Wool
by Lisbeth Løvbak Berg, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Anna Schytte Sigaard, Jan Broda, Monika Rom and Katarzyna Kobiela-Mendrek
Fibers 2023, 11(2), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib11020015 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5622
Abstract
Production and use of plastic products have drastically increased during the past decades and their environmental impacts are increasingly spotlighted. At the same time, coarse wool, a by-product of meat and dairy production, goes largely unexploited in the EU. This paper asks why [...] Read more.
Production and use of plastic products have drastically increased during the past decades and their environmental impacts are increasingly spotlighted. At the same time, coarse wool, a by-product of meat and dairy production, goes largely unexploited in the EU. This paper asks why more coarse wool is not used in consumer goods, such as acoustic and sound-absorbing products, garden products, and sanitary products. This is answered through a SWOT analysis of results from a desktop study and interviews with producers of these products made from wool, as well as policy documents relating to wool, waste, textiles, and plastic. Findings show that on a product level, the many inherent properties of wool create opportunities for product development and sustainability improvements and that using the coarser wool represents an opportunity for replacing plastics in many applications as well as for innovation. This is, however, dependent on local infrastructure and small-scale enterprises, but as such, it creates opportunities for local value chains, value creation, and safeguarding of local heritage. The shift to small-scale and local resource utilization requires systemic change on several levels: Here the findings show that policy can incentivize material usage transitions, but that these tools are little employed currently. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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23 pages, 954 KiB  
Article
Natural and Sustainable? Consumers’ Textile Fiber Preferences
by Anna Schytte Sigaard and Kirsi Laitala
Fibers 2023, 11(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib11020012 - 26 Jan 2023
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 10565
Abstract
Textile fibers have become a major issue in the debate on sustainable fashion and clothing consumption. While consumers are encouraged to choose more sustainable and circular textile materials, studies have indicated that a reduction in production and consumption has the greatest potential to [...] Read more.
Textile fibers have become a major issue in the debate on sustainable fashion and clothing consumption. While consumers are encouraged to choose more sustainable and circular textile materials, studies have indicated that a reduction in production and consumption has the greatest potential to reduce the total environmental impact. This can be considered an ecocentric perspective with a focus on degrowth as opposed to a technocentric view where new technologies are expected to solve environmental problems while economic growth continues. Based on a survey in Norway (N = 1284), we investigate how the techno- and ecocentric perspectives impact Norwegian consumers’ fiber preferences and perceptions and the corresponding effects on their clothing consumption. We found that the majority of consumers preferred natural fibers compared to synthetic materials. This contradicts current market practices and the recommendations by material sustainability comparison tools such as the Higg Material Sustainability Index (MSI), where many synthetics receive better ratings than natural fibers. We also found that perceptions of high sustainability regarding fibers were negatively correlated with reduced consumption. Our study suggests that a continued focus on material substitution and other technological measures for reducing climate change will impede the move toward sustainability in the textile sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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12 pages, 1533 KiB  
Article
Coconut-Fiber Composite Concrete: Assessment of Mechanical Performance and Environmental Benefits
by Emilio Vélez, Ricardo Rodríguez, Nicolay Bernardo Yanchapanta Gómez, Edgar David Mora, Luis Hernández, Jorge Albuja-Sánchez and María Inés Calvo
Fibers 2022, 10(11), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib10110096 - 9 Nov 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4175
Abstract
The purpose of this qualification work is to study the physical and mechanical behavior of concrete with the addition of 0.5% and 1% coconut fiber, which has been subjected to two chemical treatments to reduce its degradation. The coconut fibers were extracted from [...] Read more.
The purpose of this qualification work is to study the physical and mechanical behavior of concrete with the addition of 0.5% and 1% coconut fiber, which has been subjected to two chemical treatments to reduce its degradation. The coconut fibers were extracted from the raw material and cut into pieces 4 cm long. Subsequently, the fibers were subjected to two chemical treatments. The first involved immersing the fibers in 4% sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution, and the second treatment involved coating them with gum arabic and silica fume. A total of 50 samples of fibers were collected in their natural and post-treated state to be tested. The dosage was prepared for design strengths of 210 and 240 kg/cm2 (20.59 and 23.54 MPa), so that the percentages of 0.5% and 1% volume of coconut fiber, for the two treatments selected, replaced the respective volume of coarse aggregates. The cylinders with 1% addition of fibers had the best performance for the design strength of 20.59 MPa, including the cylinders without fibers. Those with 0.5% addition of fibers presented better performance for the 23.54 MPa dosage, although this was lower than the cylinders without fibers. In all cases, the cylinders with NaOH-treated fibers outperformed their counterparts with fibers treated with gum arabic and silica fume. Finally, a CO2 balance was determined, and an environmental gain up to 14 kg in CO2 emissions was established for each cubic meter of composite concrete. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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19 pages, 2547 KiB  
Article
Reducing Global Warming Potential Impact of Bio-Based Composites Based of LCA
by Arta Seile, Ella Spurina and Maris Sinka
Fibers 2022, 10(9), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib10090079 - 14 Sep 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3968
Abstract
The view towards a sustainable bioeconomy is increasing the interest of using renewable natural resources in the production of composites. Until now, the production of sustainable composites has been mainly examined from the point of view of material composition and structure, by replacing [...] Read more.
The view towards a sustainable bioeconomy is increasing the interest of using renewable natural resources in the production of composites. Until now, the production of sustainable composites has been mainly examined from the point of view of material composition and structure, by replacing petroleum-based components with those that are obtained from renewable resources known as natural fiber composites (NFCs). The usefulness of newly acquired materials is mostly evaluated considering their performance and economic costs, whereas the aspect of environmental protection is underestimated. The impact of composites that are made from renewable resources is examined within the two parts of this study—the first part compares different nitrogen (N) fertilization scenarios for plant origin (hemp and flax) fibers. When compared, hemp crops show higher CO2 accumulation, (−1.57 kg CO2 eq) than flax (−1.27 kg CO2 eq). In addition, the environmental impact of both fiber types is compared to polyamide composites, one of the traditionally used materials in the automotive industry in the second part of this study. According to the conducted life cycle assessment, Flax/PLA emits 1.19 kg CO2 eq per 1 kg composite, Hemp/PLA 1.7 kg CO2 eq per 1 kg composite, and PA66/GF 9.14 kg CO2 eq per 1 kg composite. After the comparison, it was concluded that bio-based composites are able to ensure lower CO2 emissions, because CO2 is accumulated and stored in the fibers, however the traditionally used composites are able to provide a lower impact in other environmental categories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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22 pages, 4983 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Atmospheric Plasma/UV Laser Treatment on the Chemical and Physical Properties of Cotton and Polyester Fabrics
by Maram Ayesh, A. Richard Horrocks and Baljinder K. Kandola
Fibers 2022, 10(8), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib10080066 - 28 Jul 2022
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2851
Abstract
Atmospheric plasma treatment can modify fabric surfaces without affecting their bulk properties. One recently developed, novel variant combines both plasma and UV laser energy sources as a means of energising fibre surfaces. Using this system, the two most commonly used fibres, cotton and [...] Read more.
Atmospheric plasma treatment can modify fabric surfaces without affecting their bulk properties. One recently developed, novel variant combines both plasma and UV laser energy sources as a means of energising fibre surfaces. Using this system, the two most commonly used fibres, cotton and polyester, have been studied to assess how respective fabric surfaces were influenced by plasma power dosage, atmosphere composition and the effects of the presence or absence of UV laser (308 nm XeCl) energy. Plasma/UV exposures caused physical and chemical changes on both fabric surfaces, which were characterised using a number of techniques including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), radical scavenging (using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH)), thermal analysis (TGA/DTG, DSC and DMA), electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Other properties studied included wettability and dye uptake. Intermediate radical formation, influenced by plasma power and presence or absence of UV, was key in determining surface changes, especially in the presence of low concentrations of oxygen or carbon dioxide (20%) mixed with either nitrogen or argon. Increased dyeability with methylene blue indicated the formation of carboxyl groups in both exposed cotton and polyester fabrics. In the case of polyester, thermal analysis suggested increased cross-linking had occurred under all conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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20 pages, 6422 KiB  
Article
Acoustic Characterization and Modeling of Silicone-Bonded Cocoa Crop Waste Using a Model Based on the Gaussian Support Vector Machine
by Virginia Puyana-Romero, Gino Iannace, Lilian Gisselle Cajas-Camacho, Christiam Garzón-Pico and Giuseppe Ciaburro
Fibers 2022, 10(3), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib10030025 - 6 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3218
Abstract
The sustainable management of waste from agricultural crops represents an urgent challenge. One possible solution considers waste as possible secondary raw materials for specific uses. Among these, the use of agricultural waste as a product for the assembly of panels for the sound [...] Read more.
The sustainable management of waste from agricultural crops represents an urgent challenge. One possible solution considers waste as possible secondary raw materials for specific uses. Among these, the use of agricultural waste as a product for the assembly of panels for the sound absorption of living environments represents a particularly suitable solution. In this study, the acoustic properties of the cocoa pod husk were evaluated, using silicone as a binder. Different proportions of materials and thicknesses were evaluated. A Support Vector Machine (SVM)-based model with a Gaussian kernel was then used to predict the acoustic performance of composite materials. The results obtained suggest the adoption of this material for the acoustic correction of living environments and this methodology for the prediction of the acoustic behavior of materials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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Review

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23 pages, 3024 KiB  
Review
Use of Sawdust Fibers for Soil Reinforcement: A Review
by Carlos J. Medina-Martinez, Luis Carlos Sandoval Herazo, Sergio A. Zamora-Castro, Rodrigo Vivar-Ocampo and David Reyes-Gonzalez
Fibers 2023, 11(7), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/fib11070058 - 3 Jul 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4969
Abstract
A frequent problem in geotechnics is soils with inadequate physical–mechanical properties to withstand construction work, incurring cost overruns caused by their engineering improvement. The need to improve the engineering properties of soils is not recent. The most common current alternatives are binders such [...] Read more.
A frequent problem in geotechnics is soils with inadequate physical–mechanical properties to withstand construction work, incurring cost overruns caused by their engineering improvement. The need to improve the engineering properties of soils is not recent. The most common current alternatives are binders such as cement and lime. The climate change observed in recent decades and the uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases have motivated geotechnical and geoenvironmental researchers to seek mechanisms for soil reinforcement from a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach by proposing the use of recycled and waste materials. An alternative is natural fibers, which can be obtained as waste from many agro-industrial processes, due to their high availability and low cost. Sawdust, as a by-product of wood processing, has a rough texture that can generate high friction between the fiber and the matrix of the soils, leading to a significant increase in its shearing strength and bearing capacity. This concept of improving the properties of soils using natural fibers distributed randomly is inspired by the natural phenomenon of grass and/or plants that, when growing on a slope, can effectively stabilize the said slope. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Fiber Competitiveness and Sustainability)
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