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Technical Article


INFLUENCE OF THE ADDITION OF NETTLE AND HEMP FIBERS TO COTTON BASED YARNS

This paper presents the research work undertaken by University of Minho and INOVAFIL on the development and evaluation of the moisture management performance of several yarns based on hemp or nettle fibers in different compositions. The influence of composition on these properties were analysed and the results were compared with those obtained for a 100% cotton yarn produced with the same production settings. The preliminary results show the combination of cotton and nettle fibers increased the moisture management properties of the yarns.

 

Introduction
Hemp is the common name for the plant of the genus Cannabis. This is multifunctional plant, with added-value in several domains as medicine, agriculture, textiles, etc. (Khan, Warner and Wang, 2014). The fibers extracted from hemp may reach 0,91 m to 4,6 m in length and grow around the plant´s stalk, leading to strength and soft yarns.
Nettle, although it assumes several similarities to hemp, presents lower fiber’s length (about 50 mm). It has been used for centuries in textiles in northern Europe due to its silkier and finer properties comparatively to flax fibers (Vogl and Hartl, 2003).
Both hemp, nettle and cotton fibers are made essentially from cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin in different amounts. These compositions are responsible for the different moisture management properties of the yarns made by them.

 

Materials
Several yarns were produced based on ring spun technology by INOVAFIL varying the amount of hemp and nettle fibers in a cotton based yarn: 15%, 30% and 100% hemp. The physical properties of the yarns produced with 15/85 proportion are presented in Table 1. The yarns were tested for moisture management properties.

 

Results and Conclusions
The results obtained for the yarns presenting 15% of hemp or nettle fibers, in comparison to those obtained for a 100% cotton yarn, are shown in Table 1. The results show that the addition of these fibers to cotton led to an increase for horizontal and vertical capillarity, although the specific water retention showed a decrease (Table 2, Figure 1).

These results show the potential of the natural fibers from hemp and nettle plants compared to the widespread cotton fibers. Harvesting hemp and nettle plants is considered to be a more sustainable option when compared to cotton as is using less resources, like water. Besides, the addition of a small amount of these fibers to a cotton fiber based yarn led to a significant increase on the properties studied.
Taking into account, the results obtained within these preliminary tests (15% hemp and nettle), further experiments for the same properties are being undertaken with different yarns containing more hemp and nettle in their composition.

 

Acknowledgments
The authors are thankful to the funding provided by Portugal 2020 through Programa Operacional Regional do Norte (NORTE 2020) within the project nº 021963, NIDYARN – Núcleo de I&D para fios funcionais de elevado desempenho”.

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