Filipino Researchers Eye Water Hyacinth’s Potential As A Natural Fiber Source
The stalks of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) are a viable natural source of alternative textile material, according to the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI).
Researchers at PTRI are studying water hyacinth fibers as raw material for the manufacture of clothing and home fabrics. Processing the fibers with polyester staples initially produced blended yarns with 20–35 percent water hyacinth component. The stalks went through a series of chemical and mechanical treatment to achieve the crimp property of wool for better processing, reduce the plant’s glue-like or gum content, and soften the fibers to make them fine and fit for knitting and weaving into apparel and other home textiles.
For a yarn count of 15 Ne suitable for apparels, blends of 80/20 and 65/35 of polyester/water hyacinth fibers were used. The same blends of polyester/water hyacinth fibers were used to get a yarn count of 10–12 Ne ideal for home textiles such as curtains, upholstery, table runners, napkins, bed cover, pillow case, and other items found at home.
PTRI pursues research trials in spinning water hyacinth fiber with cotton to raise the all-natural fiber component in producing water hyacinth fabric. PTRI researchers will perform tests to determine the ability of the fabric to resist deformation, and the textile surface to resist wear by friction.
In the Philippines, the proliferation of water hyacinth, an invasive aquatic nuisance, in freshwater bodies such as lakes and ponds has led the researchers to study the plant’s effective uses as a natural wastewater purifier and an indicator of the level of pollution in the water besides a natural source of fiber.
By Arlene R. Obmerga
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