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From furniture to cars: Abaca plant proves worth as raw material

Ehda Dagooc, Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Freeman) - November 26, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - What used to be known as an indigenous material common to furniture and handicraft making could now be utilized for natural fiber-reinforced plastic composite material to replace some parts of cars.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) earlier said that the abaca fiber has now scaled up in terms of its usage as it is found to help speed up growth in the car industry.

According to the Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) of DOST, abaca has the potential to be used as a material for better roofing material for public utility jeepneys given its lower heat conductivity.

Abaca is said to keep the inside temperature of the vehicle cooler, making it suitable for the country's tropical warmth and humidity.

A report from the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA) website cited that car manufacturer Chrysler-Damlier acknowledged the ecological balance of abaca. It said that the abaca has excellent technical properties that are similar to those of glass fiber which is recently used in the underbody protection of the car.

However, using abaca fiber provides about 60 percent of primary energy savings that significantly reduces carbon dioxide emission compared with the glass fiber.

Moreover, FIDA said that abaca is considered to be the strongest natural fiber. At present, Philippines is the major producer of abaca as it supplies 85 percent of the world market.

Few years ago, the Philippine Textile Research Institute of DOST posted a study in its website showing the high tensile strength of abaca that can beef up 140,686 pounds per square inch and can reach a maximum length of three meters.

The research was initiated by University of the Philippines — Diliman Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering chairperson Dr. Leslie Joy Lanticse-Diaz. 

Findings of her study discovered that optimizing weave construction and patterns in abaca as natural fiber reinforcement ensures better control and consistency of composite properties.

To further strengthen the industries, including abaca and its socio-economic impacts on many Filipinos, DOST, together with the Departments of Health, Agriculture, and Education, is holding 2013 National Biotechnology Week celebration that started yesterday  until the 29th of this month at the Aroceros Park, Manila.

Biotechnology refers to the science of using living organisms or their parts to improve the characteristics of living things.

One of the highlights of the weeklong event will be abaca functional genomics featuring projects that focus on the genomic resources of abaca, as there is no existing genomic information on the Philippine endemic abaca.

Genomes are the basic hereditary traits of living things. Determining such traits in abaca and how these can be used to help improve the lives of  people in terms of  economy, health, industry, and other aspects are the main objectives of applying biotechnology in abaca.

The Philippines' abaca is largely used as raw material for paper, cordage, furniture and handicraft industries.  —/JMD (FREEMAN)

 

ABACA AROCEROS PARK DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENTS OF HEALTH DILIMAN DEPARTMENT OF MINING DR. LESLIE JOY LANTICSE-DIAZ FIBER FIBER INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE METALLURGICAL AND MATERIALS ENGINEERING NATIONAL BIOTECHNOLOGY WEEK
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