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Report | April 2014

Eco-friendly fabrics from bamboo

Bamboo can yield eco-friendly fabrics, which due to high functional properties can be used medical, military, industrial, domestic, apparel and household furnishing applications, affirm G Mahesh and D Anitha.

The adoption of eco-friendly products has become a fashion statement. Among many eco products, bamboo is the fastest growing tree on earth, a renewable resource that can be used in the production of eco-textiles. When bamboo is decomposed under controlled temperature and pressure, it is converted into charcoal. Bamboo charcoal is a micro porous material with excellent adsorption property for the removal of humidity and odours along with temperature and moisture controlling capacity. Its in-built natural antibacterial and antifungal properties are an added advantage in the area of textiles.

Bamboo charcoal can be converted into nano particles, which can be embedded into core of the other fibres during polymerisation and before fibre comes out from spinnerets resulting in bamboo charcoal fibre. The developed fibre has composite functional properties such as anion generation, far infrared radiation, electromagnetic shielding capacity, thermal regulation, moisture management, deodorant, antibacterial and antifungal. It is an ideal fabric for apparel, undergarments and footwear. In the industrial sector it is mainly used in filtration.

Human lifestyle and living environment have a great impact due to the modernisation of industry. The present day-scenario shows that people are more conscious about environment and also personal health. Health conscious people have begun to purchase natural, simple and healthy products. Emphasis has been laid in the world of fashion on the universally accepted concept of eco-friendly textiles. People are deeply attracted to this concept because eco-friendly fabric process minimises the waste and hazardous by-products apart from reducing air pollution, and energy expenditure. Many eco materials are considered for clothing, which include bamboo, corn, organic cotton, hemp, soya bean, spider silk, and even coconut shells. Bamboo fabric is considered as an eco fabric because of its softness, drapability and as it is grown without using pesticides.

The newest and hottest sustainable fabric developed from the bamboo is bamboo charcoal fabric. Bamboo charcoal is considered as black diamond in Japan and Southeast Asia where bamboo charcoal fibre is used as an emerging trend in the fashion industry as manufacturers and consumers look to combine fashion with function.

Importance of bamboo

Bamboo plants grow quickly and do not require fertilisers or pesticides, besides requiring very little water. The growth rate depends on local soil and climatic condition. A temperature of 20-26-¦C and rH 74-85 per cent with preferably slightly acidic or moderately acidic soil are the best. They can survive drought conditions as well as flooding. Other major benefit of bamboo is that it releases a significant amount of oxygen into the atmosphere, more so than trees. Planting bamboo can help reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the air as well as reducing soil erosion. The complex root system of bamboo plants makes them an excellent choice for planting in high erosion areas such as riverbanks and areas subject to mud slides. They are also suitable for planting in areas which have suffered significant soil degradation and deforestation.

Area under bamboo

Bamboo is distributed in many parts of the world. There is approximately 22 million hectares of bamboo forest area worldwide (Zhou, 1998). India has the largest area under bamboo in the world, which is estimated at 11.36 million hectares and mostly in the forest area of the country. India has an existence of 136 species of bamboos in 22 genera wh

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