A consortium of five Egyptian researchers have developed the world’s first high-performance fibers and reinforcements extracted from the byproducts of pruning of date palms, such as fronds and fruit branches, also known as PalmFil. The fiber is not only sustainable but also economical in manufacturing, compatible with textile and composite processing and offers the properties needed for lightweight cars of the future. PalmFil consortium succeeded in extracting the first long textile fiber from date palm byproducts and converting them into fiber tow, chopped fiber, spun yarn/ roving, nonwoven mat, woven fabric, and unidirectional tape. The new fiber represents a sustainable material base for a wide spectrum of industries ranging from natural reinforcements for composites in automotive and sporting goods, plaster reinforcements in construction, burlap sacks for packaging, ropes, and twines, non-wood papers, and other consumer products.
The R&D conducted by PalmFil consortium demonstrates the potential of date palm fibre; its use in the modern context and in industrial settings, says Dilip Tambyrajah, Secretary-General, International Natural Fiber Organization. The use of most natural materials like the date palm fiber contributes towards maintaining biodiversity, provide employment and income and enable sustainable development in general. However, the key to its revival will be the national will and support to encourage the development of a reliable supply chain that can service the various production sectors that could use the fiber, he adds.
The self-supported research was conducted for five long years. It relied completely on the consortium funds and was driven by a strong belief on the impact of such innovation on the sustainable development of rural communities and their livelihoods, adds Dr Ahmed Hassanin, Partner, PalmFil Consortium.