Deakin Research Online - DRO

Deakin Research Online - DRO

Deakin Research Online This is the published version: Afrin, T., Tsuzuki, T. and Wang, X. 2009, Bamboo fibres and their unique properties, Bamboo bull...

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Deakin Research Online This is the published version: Afrin, T., Tsuzuki, T. and Wang, X. 2009, Bamboo fibres and their unique properties, Bamboo bulletin, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 36-39. Available from Deakin Research Online: Reproduced with the kind permissions of the copyright owner. Copyright : 2009, Bamboo Society of Australia

Bamboo Fibres and Their Unique Properties by T. Afrin, T. Tsuzuki, X. Wang 1

distinctive properties if they are processed in a proper method .

Bamboo is one of the fastest growin g plants in the world. It grows to its maximum height in about 3 months and reaches maturity in 3-4 years. It can grow up to I metre over night. As such, it spreads rapidly across large areas and can be used to improve soil quality in degraded and eroded areas of land. The yield from an acre of bamboo is 10 times greater than that from cotton. Bamboo needs no pesticides, chemical weeding, insecticides, and fungicide to grow, whilst cotton requires a large amount of harmful pesticides to grow. Unlike cotton, bamboo needs no irrigation and bamboo clothing has three times service life span than cotton.

The chemical constituents of bamboo are primarily cellulose, hemicellu lose and lignin, with cellulose making up approxi mately 60% and lignin around 32%. A quantitati e analys is according to the Chinese standard method (GB5889-86) confirmed the foll owing ingredients in bamboo: cellulose 43 .72%, hemicelluloses 23.98%, lignin 28.09%, pectin 1.5 4%, wax 2.2 % and \ ater soluble 0.45%. As a natural nan ompo ite. bamboo possesses multi-nodes and functional gradient structur es, macroscopicall as well as mi ro copi ally. T he fibres are distributed densely in the outer urface region and sparsel in the inner surfa e region. Its structure is designed to ha e unifonn strength at all positions in both the radial direction on the trans erse section and the lengthwise direction. The thickwalled bamboo fibres exhibit a polylame Liate structure with alternating broad and narrow lamellae. The concentration of lignin is higher in the narrow lamellae than in the broad ones. Xy Ian seems to occur in a higher concentration in the narrow lamellae. Methods ha e been derived for extractin g pure fibres from bamboo culms and distinguishing bamboo fibres from other plant fibres using m icroscopy and infrared spectroscopy.

There is an immense demand for sustainable clothing or "Green" or "Eco-friendly" technology. A clothing industry information group, Just-Style, reported that: "Buy ing goods with an organic label is already deemed good business sense at every retail level. And as organics become more commercially appealing, so new opportunities are opening up around the world for products which fit this brief'. The fibres made from renewable raw materials using an env ironmentally friendly and commercially viable process can be termed as "Green" process. Those fibres would also be biodegradable in composting situations after disposal and have significant recycling capability, hence can be considered as "Eco-friendly ". Rf'Il~vablf'


Raw Matf'Iial



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The production flow of natural original bamboo fibres Very few companies disclosed the detailed procedure for the production of bamboo fibres . In this paper, the production procedures of four companies are reviewed. For the production of bamboo yams, Phyllostachys pubescens or Moso bamboo of Yunnan province are generally used that can reach a mature height of approximately 23 metre in just 45 to 60 days. The common manufacturing procedure for bamboo fibres and yams can be described as follows:


Concept of eco-friendly fibres According to this concept, bamboo fibre has the potential to be a satisfactory example of eco-friendly products as it comes from nature and completely returns to nature in the end, retaining carbon-neutral characteristics through the product life cycle. Normally a forest tree requires at least 60 years to recover once it is cut, but natural bamboo recovers with a growth period of2-3 years. Therefore, bamboo can be highly praised as one of the natural, green and eco-friendly new-type textile materials due to its

Bamboo Bulletin VallI - Number 1



Extraction and Crushing: Bamboo leaves and the soft, inner pith from the hard bamboo trunk are extracted and crushed.

May 2009

2. Alkali

cellulose formation : The crushed bamboo cellulose is soaked in a solution of 15% to 20% sodium hydroxide at a temperature between 20 to 25 0 C for one to three hours to form alkali cellulose. 3. Removal of excess sodium hydroxide: The bamboo alkali cellulose is then pressed to remove any excess sodium hydroxide solution. The alkali cellulose is crushed by a grinder and left to dry for 24 hours. 4. Jelly Formation: Roughly a third as much carbon disulfide is added to the bamboo alkali cellulose to sulphurize the compound causing it to become jelly. 5. Evaporation: Any remaining carbon disulfide is removed by evaporation and cellulose sodium xanthogenate formation . 6. Preparation of viscose solution: A diluted solution of sodium hydroxide is added to the cellulose sodium xanthogenate dissolving it to create a viscose solution consisting of about 5% sodium hydroxide and 7% to 15% bamboo fibre cellulose. 7. Bamboo Yarn preparation: The viscose bamboo cellulose is forced through spinneret nozzles into a large container of a diluted sulphuric acid solution which hardens the viscose bamboo cellulose sodium xanthogenate and reconverts it to cellulose bamboo fibres which are spun into yarns to be woven into reconstructed and regenerated bamboo fabric.

Appearance of bamboo fibres Another company states that they process bamboo fibres in the following manner: ( i) Cutting raw material, (ii) washing, (iii) brazing, (iv) bleaching, (v) smashing, (vi) etiolating, (vii) filtrating, (viii) filaturing, (ix) binding (x) cutting and drying. Research has indicated that bamboo is superior to other natural lignocellulosic fibres for their distinctive structure but higher crystallinity and orientation of bamboo can bring the bad properties such as bad elasticity, poor wrinkle recovery, harsh handle, low dyeability and prickliness when worn next to the skin. X ray diffraction tests have been preformed with alkali treated bamboo fibres of 6.0 dtex and 97% of cellulose content which were extracted from bamboo stems by a mechanical method and enzymatic degumming process. That has identified that the standard mercerization or decrystallization condition for bamboo fibres is 16 % alkali concentration for 10 minutes at 20°C without tension applied to the fibres.

One Chinese company uses the production flow as shown in Figure 2. They claim that the average fibre length can be controlled between 30 mm and 90 mm to suit various applications. At present, their bamboo fibres' fineness is average 6 dtex. Their bamboo fibres are similar to cotton in its unspun form giving an appearance of a light, airy puffball of fibres (Figure 3). Some researchers have described the impact of alkali in the physical and mechanical properties of bamboo and have used atmospheric pressure argon plasma to enhance the dyeing ability and hydrophilicity of bamboo fibres. Others have used Xylanase to perform the degumming while manufacturing bamboo textile fibres. They realised only enzyme degumming is not sufficient to refine the cellulose. They indicated combined action of mild chemical and enzyme treatment can perform better bamboo degumming.

Vapour pre-treatment is required to improve the humidity during roving and drawing of bamboo fibres to prevent breakages. High-activation, highstability and selective enzymes are used for de-sizing bamboo. All dye stuffs that are suitable for cotton can be used to dye bamboo fibres. Infrared drying is suggested to ensure even evaporation of moisture, good softness and handle, and to avoid reduction in fibre. Research has indicated that 100% bamboo yarns demonstrate remarkable elasticity that is nearly 20%. This property is evident even in 100% bamboo woven fabrics that eliminate the necessity of blending with Elastane. Dyestuff pick up of bamboo fibres is better than cotton, modal or viscose. Hence, it requires less quantity of dye stuff and gives bright colour shades. The technical manual of one company indicates that bamboo yarn production stages are very similar to traditional viscose production but with some minor adjustments. However, it is not clear which components (lignin etc.) of the bamboo are removed and which are remammg in their commercial products. Although the actual yarns may well be 100% bamboo, the amount of the different additives or constituents mixed with the bamboo through different stages of processing can provide

A Taiwanese company extracts cellulose from the bamboo plant and produces bamboo fibres by means of various physical treatments such as steaming and boiling. It has a soft handle like any other viscose, and can be spun either 100% or in blends with other raw materials such as cotton, hemp, artificial silk, natural silk, modal, silk ribbon and Dacron.

Bamboo Bulletin Vol 11 - Number 1


May _009

end products with different properties. Moreover, these manufacturing processes indicate the use of a large amount of chemicals and, as such, the process may not be called as truly eco-friendly. More benign and harmful chemical free treatments are required to process bamboo fibres .

Another bamboo manufacturer has tested the UVscreening ability of bamboo and cotton fabrics. Fabric samples for both bamboo and cotton were taken of the same colour, same count and similar appearance in all aspects. They found that bamboo has significantly higher UVB blocking efficiency than cotton and obtained a high rate of user satisfaction for their bamboo products. Researchers identified that one third of present commercial summer clothing items provide a sun protection factor of less than 15. Therefore, it ind icates the promising potential for replacing cotton clothing with bamboo fabrics to protect human skin from the harmful UV rays.

Extremely soft, comfortable and cool bamboo fibres possess a bright colour. It has been found that the tensile, flexural and impact strengths of bamboo along the fibres are 200.5 MN m- 2, 230.09 MN m- 2 and 63.54 kJ m- 2, respectively. It has high elastic resilience, moisture absorption, good drapability, wearability and excellent spinnability. Researchers have pointed out that bamboo and ramie fibres have similar crystallinity which is greater than that of flax and cotton. Table I compares the properties of bamboo and cotton fibres. PaI'aJIlf'tf'I'S Lincar dcnsity dtcx) Sin!!:ic illy tcnsile Sfl'C~lgth (cN! dtex) Singlc wet tcnsile stl'Cngth (cN/ dtex) Dry tcnsile elongation pel'centage (:'/0) :Moisnu'c regain (%) Absol·bcncy !'lItes % Spccific d~nsity (gfcn~) Mass specification l'e~istancc I rl . g, cm,2

BaInboo Fibn 1.6 2 .2< ! ,5 1.3 ~ 1.

1~, 18

Bamboo ' s ability as a medicine has been recognised for a long time. For example, bamboo plays a in Ayurveda and Chinese significant role acupuncture. To treat asthma, coughs and as an aphrodisiac, the powder made of the hardened secretion of bamboo is used . Ingredients from the root of the black bamboo are used to treat kidney disease. Roots and leaves are used to make medicine for venereal disease, cancer and to improve oral hygiene. It is believed that sap helps to reduce fever and ash is a cure of prickly beat. A butanol-soluble extract of the bamboo leaves has a significant antioxidant activity, as measured by scavenging the stable I, I-diphenyl-2-picry Ihydrazyl (DPPH) free radical and the superoxide anion radical (02') in the xanthine/xanthine oxidase assay system. Bamboo possesses a unique antibacterial property derived from a bio-agent named bamboo "Kun" or " Kunh" (also called " bamboo chinone"). Bamboo Kun combines tightly with cellulose molecules all along during the production of bamboo fibres. Death rate of bacteria is 70% after they are incubated on bamboo fibre fabric. Bamboo and bamboo grass possess strong antibacterial activity. Among them extract from bamboo has higher activity. The antibacterial compound of bamboo is 2, 6-dimethoxy-pbenzoquinone. Researchers have described both antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of bamboo and remarked that the antimicrobial characteristics are due to polyphenols and lipids. An antibacterial test was conducted by China Textile Industry Testing Centre according to the China Textile Industry Standard FZ/T 01021-92. The results showed that bamboo has a strong antibacterial effect while cotton has no such effect (Table 2). Bamboo clothing manufacturers have also conducted several antibacterial tests according to Japanese industrial standard ns L 1902 (Halo test) and found that bamboo fibres have inhibited the proliferation of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus, Monilia Albican /Canidia Albicans and even Black


Fibn 1. ~ ~ 1. 7 2 .5",3 .1 1.5 ~ 2 . 1 8~ 10


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V;~ 1.6

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Physical properties of bamboo and cotton fibres

The Cancer Council Australia states that Australia has the highest incidence rate of skin cancer, melanoma. More than 1200 people die from melanoma each year and 10,000 cases are diagnosed yearly. Sun-protective clothes can offer a great protection from UV light as a barrier between skin and sun but those clothing must have the following properties: • Excellent Sun protection • Good durability • Quick drying • Shape and colour retention ability Bamboo fibres can be a candidate material to make such protective clothes as they deliver all the required properties. Research has confirmed the UV shielding effect of bamboo fibres. Many manufacturing companies also witnessed the UV shielding effect not just from their in-house analysis but also from reputed testing authorities. In April 2005, a bamboo fibre and clothing manufacturing company sent out purely natural 100% bamboo jersey to the Sun Care Research Laboratories in Winston Salem, N.C. for UV protection testing. The UPF label rating was 15 and the fabric scored 18.3 on the UPF scale with 94. 15% UVA block and 93.17% UVB block.

Bamboo Bulletin Vol II - Number I



May 2009

Tesma. fabIic

o how': Inoculatf'd bacteIia ll1nnbft'

Bamboo fabric Cotton fabric

8.60 Xl()4 2.0 X 1()5

24 how' iatu: bacteIia nwnbu 0.6 Xl()2 1.1 X lOS

excltll1g and originally beautiful eco-fashion in bamboo . Bamboo clothing is naturally more wrinkleresistant than cotton. Bamboo clothing can be machine washed in cool water with mild soap on the gentle cycle, though softe ners or bleaches are good to be avoided for bamboo clothing. It is best if garments made of bamboo are hung to dry. Surprisingly, it dries faster than most other fabrics. Bamboo socks, towels, briefs, bed sheets, jackets are very common items among the web based retailers. Fashion retailers, Target and Sussan are already selling bamboo textile products in Australian market. Bamboo clothing may create a new dimension in the fashion trend of sunny region of the world like Australia for its multi functionality .

AntibadeIia ute


Antlbactenal test report of bamboo fibres

It was also found that natural antibacterial function of bamboo fibres differs greatly from that of chemical antimicrobials in that bamboo does not cause skin allergy. It is validated by Japan Textile Inspection Association that, even after fifty times of washing, bamboo fibre fabrics still possess excellent antibacterial and bacteriostatic functions. Bamboo fibre also has particular and natural functions of deodorization due to the presence of sodium copper chlorophyll. The deodorization rate of bamboo is 80% for the NH3 test. Under these circumstances, bamboo fibres promise their place in sanitary towels, gauze mask, absorbent pads, food packing, surgical clothes, operating coat and nurse dresses.


~~ ".

Bamboo is characterized by having excellent hygroscopic properties along with good ventilation , coolness, permeability and splendid colour effects of pigmentation. It has an outstanding wicking property as it wicks away moisture or perspiration in a second without clinging against body. It has 12 times stronger anti-static effect than cotton products. Figure 4 shows the images of bamboo fibres taken under optical and scanning electron microscopes. The fibres have numerous micro-fibre surface grooves, horizontal irregular oval and round waist, with the cavity filled with circumferential and small gaps. Due to those micro gaps or holes, cracks and grooves, like capillary, bamboo clothing wearers experience instant moisture absorption and evaporation. This is why it is so metimes described as " Will breathe fibre " . The temperature of the apparels made from bamboo fibres is 1-2 degrees lower than normal apparels in hot summer. The fibres have round smooth surfaces so that they do not cause irritating stimulation against human skin. They are also described as "air conditioning" garments as they are cooler during summer and feel comfortably fluffy and warmer during cold weather.


Lengthways appearance (left); Cross section appearance (right) of bamboo fibres (KongFi and Eratheasy, 2008 A Chinese poet once wrote, "Man can live without meat, but he will die without bamboo ". This reflects the significant potential of bamboo fibres. The available information suggests that bamboo fibres have unique properties such as excellent appearance and feel , natural antibacterial, UV -shielding and moisture-controlling characteristics. However, those unique properties may largely depend on the manufacturing processes, the details of which are usually closely guarded by the manufacturing companies. Although many companies made claims for the unique properties of bamboo fibres , little evidence was able to be collected from scientific literature. For instance, the claimed "cool in summer" and " warm in winter" characteristics of bamboo fibres would need to be verified in well controlled experimentation. There is a strong need for unbiased laboratory experiments being conducted in a ri gorous manner to elucidate the origin of those unique properties of bamboo fibres and to develop the methods to effectively utilise the properties in the final products.

Bamboo has attracted increasing attention from the designers around the world due to the grow ing environmental awareness among consumers. Designer Kate O ' Connor has started to use bamboo fabrics as an eco-friendly and cheap replacement for silk. She indicated that it gives a similar drape to silk and makes perfect summer fabrics . Other savvy ecofashion designers such as Linda Loudermilk, Katherine Hamnett, Miho Aoki and Thuy Pham frequently incorporate bamboo into their ecofashions due to its light, soft and luxurious appeal. Designer Amanda Shi also has some of the most

Bamboo Bulletin Vol II - Number I


1. Centre for Material and Fibre Innovation, Deakin University , Geelong, VIC 3217, Australia. The paper was presented at the Combined (NZ and Aus) Conference of The Textile Institute 2009, 15-17 April 2009, Dunedin, New Zealand. The text of this article has been edited to make it more accessible to the general reader. The full paper, including references supporting the material presented, can be obtained from the corresponding author at [email protected] .au


May 2009