Classification of Fibres, Chemistry tutorial

About fibers

Plants that yield fibres have been companion to human type because time immemorial. Materials for rope and weaving were collected from the wild by the earliest peoples; later societies began to care for particular strands of these plants. Fibres have long been of natural origin.  Human uses for fibres are diverse. They can be spun into filaments, thread, string or rope. They can be utilized as a component of composite substances. They can as well be matted into sheets to make products these as paper or felt. Fibres are often utilized in the manufacture of other materials.

Definition of Fibres

Fibre or fibre is a class of materials that are continuous filaments or are in discrete elongated pieces, alike to lengths of thread. Fibres are of huge significance in the biology of both plants and animals, for holding tissues mutually.

Classification of Fibres

Fibres utilized via man come from a wide variety of sources. They are classified into 2 broad type's namely natural and synthetic fibres. 

Natural fibres

Natural fibres comprise those generated through plants, animals, and geological procedures. They are biodegradable over time. They can be classified according to their origin:

(a) Vegetable Fibres: Vegetable fibres are usually depends on arrangements of cellulose, often by lignin: examples include cotton, linen, hemp jute, flax, ramie, and sisal. Plant fibres serve in the create of paper and cloth.

(b) Wood Fibres: Wood fibre, distinguished from vegetable fibre, is from tree sources. Forms comprise ground wood, thermo mechanical pulp (TMP) and bleached or unbleached kraft or sulfite pulps. Kraft and sulfite, as well termed sulphite, refer to the kind of pulping procedure employed to eliminate the lignin bonding the original wood structure, therefore freeing the fibres.

(c) Animal Fibres:  They consist largely of particular proteins.

Instances are spider silk, sinew, catgut and hair (including wool). Polar bear fibres are noted for being hollow.

(d) Mineral Fibres: This comprises of asbestos. Asbestos is the only naturally happening long mineral fibre. Short, fibre-like minerals comprise wollastinite, attapulgite and halloysite. In common natural fibres can be grouped into 2 categories: soft fibres and hard fibres.

Soft fibres

Most soft fibres come from the bast portion of the plant. Also termed the phloem, the bast lies directly under the outer bark or skin. Here the transport of the products of photosynthesis and the development of stabilizing structures take place. Through the procedure of retting, the bast is eliminated from the stems. Hemp, Flax, Jute and Ramie are soft fibres.

Hard fibres

Hard fibres are included not only of the phloem but as well partly of the hardened wood core of the plant, the Xylem. The hardness in the plant's fibres is caused through the deposit of lignin in the cell walls. Hard fibres generally come from departs of monocot (single seed-leaf) species, for instance Sisal agave, fibre banana and diverse palms.

Human-made fibres

Such might come from natural raw materials or from synthetic chemicals. They are of 2 kinds:

(a) Many kinds of fibre are manufactured from natural cellulose; including rayon, modal, and the more recently extended Lyocell. Cellulose-based fibres are of 2 kinds, regenerated or pure cellulose these as from the cupro-ammonium procedure and modified or derivitized cellulose such as the cellulose acetates. Fibreglass made from specific glass formulas and optical fibre, made from purified natural quartz, are also man-made fibres, which come from natural raw materials. Metallic fibres can be drawn from ductile metals these as copper, gold or silver and extruded or deposited from more brittle ones these as nickel, aluminum or iron.

(b) Synthetic fibres are subsets of man-made fibres that are depend on synthetic chemicals (often from petrochemical sources) rather than arising from natural substances via a purely physical process. These fibres are made from polyamide, nylon, polyethylene (PET) or PBT polyester, polyvinyl alcohol fibre (PVOH), phenol-formaldehyde (PF), polyvinyl chloride fibre (PVC), polyolefins (PP and  PE),  or  acrylic  polymers,  even though  pure  polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibres are employed to create carbon fibre through roasting them in a low oxygen atmosphere. Traditional acrylic fibre is employed more often as a synthetic replacement for wool. Carbon fibres and PF fibres are noted as 2 resins-depend fibres that aren't thermoplastic, most others can be melted. Aromatic nylons such as Kevlar and Nomex thermally degrade at high temperatures and do not melt. More exotic fibres contain strong bonding between polymer chains (for example aramids), or extremely long chains (for example Dyneema or Spectra). Elastomers can even be used, for instance spandex even though urethane fibres are beginning to swap spandex technology.

Extraction of Fibres

The extraction of bast fibres from the stems of linen, hemp, ramie, nettle and many other fibre plants is completed throughout retting. The strings of fibres in each are glued mutually and to the outer bark and the inner wood through pectin. Throughout the retting procedure, the activity of diverse fungi, bacteria  and  weathering  dissolve  the  pectin  and  the  fibres  can  be divided via chemical and/or mechanical means.

Dew retting

Dew retting occurs directly on the field. The stems of plants are harvested, gathered in bundles, stacked and left to the elements. Depending on temperature and weather, retting can get several weeks.

Water retting

Water retting is done in huge basins filled through water. Soaking in water, the pectin is more rapidly liquefied. Earlier in Europe and still today in developing countries, plant fibres are retted in rivers and streams that frequently is the cause for severe water pollution.

Natural Sources of Fibres


Cotton is King, the most generated and most consumed of all normal fibres. Cotton's soft, flexible qualities and its unique ability to control moisture and warmth build it 1st choice substance for many industries. Few can deny the fundamental comfort of cotton in its most recognizable form, 'jeans and T-shirt', simple fashion and skin-friendly standardized of the American West. Cotton is obtained from the plant Gossypium arboreum L., G. herbaceum L. (Old World Cotton) and Gossypium barbadense L and G. hirsutum L (New World Cotton). New world cotton provide much higher yields than those from the Old World, their fibres are finer and normally longer.

Flax or Linen

In Western Civilisation linen was the most significant substance made from plant fibres, from ancient times until the end of the 18th Century. Finds of archaic linen seeds in Iraq and in southeastern Turkey demonstrate that wild linen Linum bienne was cultivated as early as 9000 years ago. The living and the dead of Egypt were, for thousands of years, wrapped in linen.

Linen from the plant Linum usitatissimum L grows to 120cm. Its short fibres are originated in the stem. Bound mutually end to end and into bundles through pectin, linen fibres form strands 60 to 90cm long. Linen is tremendously rip-resistant but not above all flexible. For the finest of fibres, the green plant is harvested subsequent its flowering period. Whenever left until golden, middle-ripe, linen provides stronger fibres and rougher textiles. Entirely ripe and dried when harvested, linen fibre is only helpful for ropes and sackcloth. The extreme parallel order of flax fibres in their bundles provides linen fabric a traits wrinkle.

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