Now farmers and processors can look forward to increased demand and prices for this natural fiber. Abaca (Musa textilis Nee), also known as the Manila Hemp, was found out in a study to possess extremely high tensile strength, high enough to replace plastic composite parts of cars!
Dr. Leslie Joy Lanticse-Diaz, chair of the Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, University of the Philippines Diliman, shared this news with natural fiber stakeholders at the recently concluded National Conference on Natural Fibers held in Manila. The study conducted by Dr. Diaz and her team aimed to incorporate abaca into plastic matrices for various engineering applications. Results show that Manila Hemp can have tensile strength of up to 970 MPa, which means that in order to break it, a force of 140,686 pounds per square inch is needed.
Abaca fiber was also reported to reach a maximum of 3 meters that gives it additional advantage of length. Dr. Diaz also noted from information from Daimler Chrysler, that the fiber has since 2005 been used as a composite material in standard underbody covers of wheels in three-door versions of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class model.
In a report, the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) listed the Philippines as a major abaca producer, supplying 85 percent of world market needs for the fiber. With this in mind, the researchers believe that the industry is ready to use this fiber beyond that as paper, cordage, and handcrafted products. (ARObmerga/ AMGuevarra/ DOST IV-A S&T Media Service)