Stemergy: Renewable Fibre Technology

Hemp Industry on a Global Course of Expansion

20 January 2007

According to a recent synopsis of the 4th International Conference of the European International Hemp Association (EIHA), held in Germany in November 2006, there is a “globally increasing demand for hemp raw materials due to worldwide raw material shortages”.

Michael Karus of Nova-Institute (Hürth/Germany) noted that “The transition from fossil to renewable resources (“raw material shift“) leads to a shortage and price increase of biomass and particularly wood. That makes a fast growing, high-yielding and mechanically strong plant such as hemp interesting for many applications such as: plastics and composite, automotive, furniture, building, paper and the textile industry.” It was noted that considerable price increases for oil and plastics and other fibre sources are occurring world wide and this is spurring on demand for European hemp and flax fibre.

New develops in hemp textile production were presented by the Italian company Fibranova, who plan to invest into a modern enzymatic based processing system for bio-degumming hemp fibers and production of hemp yarns on wet spun systems. Another German-Dutch project is utilizing steam explosion as a means to produce hemp fiber for making jean grade hemp fabrics, with new product to be made available in the next years. There was also discussion about expanded uses of hemp fiber to replace cotton in the Asian textile market.

In the area of composites, a representative of R+S Technik GmbH, a worldwide leading mechanical engineering company for natural fibre press-molded parts, discussed the growth of renewable fibres use in the automotive industry in the area of compression molding, injection molding and extrusion molding parts. A Dutch company NPSP Composieten BV is manufacturing diverse products using the RTM technique (Resin Transfer Molding) utilizing renewable fibres such as hemp and flax. Examples included housings of radar units (glass fibres disturb the radar rays), boats, furniture and loudspeakers.

In applications of paper and construction products, both areas high lighted increasing demand for hemp fiber caused by shortages of wood. Hemp fiber pulp is particularly suitable for upgrading recycled paper, thanks to its longer fibers. The company Kosche from Germany has been offering lightweight hemp fiber based boards since 2006 for use in trucks, camping vehicles and the shipbuilding sector. For both applications it was stated that the diversion of wood to energy production has created reduced availability and increased prices for wood, thus expanding opportunities for hemp fiber.

Source: The Nova Institute:

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Stemergy bio-fiber is focused on producing and supplying renewable bio-fibres - derived from annual stem fiber plants such as flax and hemp - to the expanding global bio-fiber marketplace.