Investigation of the Exraction Processes and Performance Properties of Kudzu Fibers
While kudzu was introduced into the Southeastern United states for soil erosion and increase of land fertility, the plant has become unmanageable and is rapidly spreading to Canada. Japanese traditional craftsmen extract long, white fibers by labor intensive practices not feasible for 21st century commercial fiber production. This research investigated extraction by boiling, retting or fermentation, enzymatic combinations, and mild chemical processes. Two types of fibers were resultant- soft fibers and compact woody fibers. These fibers types were assessed for microscopic visual appearance, elemental analysis using EDAX SEM, and tensile strengths for the four extraction processes. In all extraction cases, the resultant amount of woody kudzu fibers was 2-5 times that of soft fibers. Breaking elongation of both soft and woody fibers was very high as compared to that of cotton fibers. Chemical processes improved the strength of soft fibers to a very high degree, averaging 19.89kg/tex.