Kenaf

Plants used by the Paper-makers: Kenaf

Kenaf, Hibiscus cannabinus,L. is a member of the Malvaceae family. Also referred to as Guinea hemp, mesta or ambari, it originated and is most prevalent in Africa. This lengthy fibrous plant can also be found flourishing in China, Thailand and India, the worlds leading producers. However, it can also be found on seed farms in Texas,North Carolina and Mexico. Kenaf external image ki03.jpghas tall stalks growing up to 18 feet with leaves situated mainly at the top of the stalk, along with pale yellow flowers with purple centers external image cas53d.gifgrowing between the stalks and stems. It can be found growing in a variety of soils, but flourishes in tropical or subtropical environments without the presence of harsh wind or rain. Advantages to growing this plant include its adaptability in different types of soil, disease resistance, drought tolerance, carbon fixation effect and its ability to be grown among other crops. Like its fellow plant, hemp, kenaf produces a hefty yeild, and matures in just six months. After this maturation, kenaf is ready to be harvested and its fibers are separated mechanically from its stalks. It is then "pulped," by the kraft process and can be found later used for rope, twine, cloth and paper.


Kenaf is pulped by the kraft process. Kenaf pulping does not require as many chemicals or expend as much energy as wood being processed, therefore creating less pollution. Kenaf stalks provide 2-3 times more fibre per acre per year than Southern pine, a paper industry staple. This process goes through a variety of stages where wood chips are dropped into large vessels called digesters where they are infused with cooking liquors in order to loosen its fibers. (usually a combination of removed lignin, water and chemicals that were used in the extraction process). This liquor is then concentrated by evaporation and burned in a recovery boiler to generate high pressure steam for mill processes.The inorganic part of this liquor is used to generate sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide needed for pulping.


Continuous Kraft pulp mill
Continuous Kraft pulp mill



Other members in the Malvaceae family, such as okra and cotton, have commonalities with kenaf, including its economic and horticultural benefits.
Prevalent use of cotton in hospitality across the globe
Prevalent use of cotton in hospitality across the globe

Benefits of cotton:
Cotton is a popular material used by people across the globe. Not only is it a material of comfort, but it reacts quite positively with the environment. Because cotton is such a sustainable and durable fabric, it is an environmentally friendly option for the hospitality industry.

Benefits of okra:
Freshly picked okra plant
Freshly picked okra plant
Containing vitamins A and C, as well as having a good source of iron and calcium, okra is also on good terms with nature today. In West Africa, okra improves the soil as it reduces the need for water, therefore saving water.

Geographical distribution of non-wood cellulose pulp production plants 77% concentrated in Asia
Geographical distribution of non-wood cellulose pulp production plants 77% concentrated in Asia
Human Use and Domestication Paper first became a true asset in China. Ts'ai Lun's discovery of the Mulberry tree jump-started the process of paper-making. Paper quickly became the most innovative and dependable form of communication. Today, we depend on paper not only to read the news or mail a letter, but to get us from day to day. Forms of paper can be found in schools, offices, hospitals, homes, buildings themselves, automobiles and in recreation. Since the 1960's, there has been an increasing rate for the need of kenaf in the newspaper industry. It's source of fiber is used for the manufacture of newsprint as well as other pulp and paper products. Kenaf fibers have found their way into other markets as well: animal bedding, oil absorbents, grass and flower mats, decorative fibers and insulation. Kenaf also yields a vegetable oil which contains omega polyunsaturated fats, benefitting the health of humans, it is also used for animal feed. Its seed oil is also used for to cosmetics, industrial lubricants and for biofuel production.



Kenaf's impact on global technology:
Kenaf's many uses and environmentally friendly attributes has found itself in Japan's global corporation, NEC. In 2006, they figured out a way to reap its benefits. They have integated kenaf with a number of bioplastics to create the first mobile phone of its kind.

NEC's Article:
New material that made the Eco Mobile possible: kenaf fiber-reinforced bioplastic

NEC has developed a new material, kenaf fiber-reinforced bioplastic. We added fiber from kenaf, a plant that is very useful for global warming prevention, to the main raw material of bioplastic, polylactic acid. The kenaf acts as a reinforcing agent. Therefore, we were able to
Mobile phone made of kenaf fiber-reinforced polylactic acid
Mobile phone made of kenaf fiber-reinforced polylactic acid
improve the formability, heat resistance, and strength of the bioplastic. The impact resistance has almost doubled compared with that of polylactic acid. This is the first time that it has been used for a product casing, though there have been PC dummy cards made of this plastic. Moreover, this is the world's first case of bioplastic being used in a mobile phone (source: NEC market research).
Process by which NEC generates use of kanaf fibers
Process by which NEC generates use of kanaf fibers



With the use of kenaf, NEC has made great change to the environment. Instead of using conventional oil-based plastics which emitted large doses of carbon dioxide into the air, kenaf based plastics only leak about half the amount. With the minimal amount of carbon dioxide released into the air, there is a decreased threat of global warming. In addition, new plastics NEC contain large kenaf bases and resource depletion is no longer a major issue (in comparison with oil, which can be expended more easily).





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