Banana leaves and stalks could be a source of commercial fibre reinforcement according to Colombian research, replacing glass, carbon and plastic polymers.
Natural fibres are usually irregular, making them unsuitable as a reinforcement. A new technique involving immersion in an anhydrous acetic reactant and acetone, followed by washing in acetone and water and then oven drying, smoothes out the fibres, enabling them to adhere to a polymer matrix. This also increases their durability and water repellence, making them suitable reinforcing material.
Colombia produces nearly 3 million tonnes of bananas each year and this new commercial use of banana waste could greatly increase grower’s income.