Management of crop residues in eco-friendly and profitable way is one of the major issues in agriculture. Though, in some of the crops like sugarcane, wheat, rice etc, it has been achieved to some extent, yet lot is to be done on massive scale in India. Among various crops, banana is one such crop which generates huge quantity of fresh biomass and so far not much attention has been given towards its effective utilization. However, the residue of banana mainly consisting of pseudostem has tremendous potential to provide alternative/ supplementary raw material to industries like textile, paper, pharmaceutical, confectionaryetc,. In view of this, a project entitled “A Value Chain on Utilization of Banana Pseudostem for Fibre and Other Value Added Products” was sanctioned under NAIP by ICAR, New Delhi during 2008 to 2014 in consortium mode. The consortium comprises of Navsari Agricultural University, Navsari as lead center and Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology, ICAR, Mumbai, Manmade Textile Research Association, Surat and J. K. Mills Ltd., Songadh as the partners. The basic aim of this project was to develop different value added products using presently waste banana pseudostem as raw material.
As envisaged in project proposal, the value added products viz;fibre and non woven fabrics, handmade papers and boards, vermicompost, enriched sap (organic liquid fertilizer) and candy have been developed which are techno economically viable.
Banana fibre yarn making machines
Banana yarn making machine consists of mechanical softening machine, Staple fibre cutting machine, carding machine, Gill drawing machine and Ring spinning machine. These machines can be used for spinning banana fibres to spun yarn counts of about 500 tex.
Banana fibre mechanical softening machine
This machine has 4/4 helically fluted top rollers and bottom rollers with a feed lattice for feeding the banana fibre strands. The fibre gets softened because of the crushing action that takes place between the rollers and normally 2 to 3 passage is given for banana fibre. This machine is also fitted with oil box for the application of softening oils to the fibre.
Banana staple fibre cutting machine:
This machine has 2/2 calendar rollers for holding the fibre while cutting. There are two blades one Stationery and oscillating for cutting the fibre. At present the banana fibres are cut in the range of 15 to 20 cm. Provision is also made in the machine to change the cut lengths depending up on the requirement by changing the gears.
Banana fibre carding machine:
The machine consists of various elements namely aconveyor, feed roller, firsts set of worker-stripper assembly, second set of worker-stripper assembly, doffer, crush rollers, funnel tray, delivery rollers and crimper. Except crush rollers and delivery rollers all the other rollers are clothed with metal pins. Crush rollers and delivery rollers are metallic rollers without any pins.The main objective of this machine is to clean the mechanically extracted banana pseudo stem fibre by removingpith and gummy matter from the fibre surface and make the fibre suitable for yarn formation on a spinning machine.
Banana fibre Gill drawing machine:
This machine consists of a set of back roller and front roller with steel combs kept in between these rollers. Four to five slivers are fed to this machine and the slivers are doubled and drafted to required thickness. The machine has single head and delivers a crimped sliver. The draft of the machine can be changed by changing the speed of the rollers through variable frequency drive motors.
Banana fibre ring spinning machine:
This machine has 4 spinning heads with a 3/3 slip draft system having top and bottom aprons for controlling the fibre movement. The sliver is fed to the machine through a guide to the back rollers. The sliver is drafted to suitable thickness and twist is inserted to the yarn and wound on to a bobbin of 8 inches diameter. The machine has digital display for spindle speed, front roller speed and back roller speed. The speed of all the elements can be varied depending on the count of yarn being spun.
CIRCOT-Phoenix Charkha is a pedal driven machine for spinning coarse long-staple fibres like banana pseudostem fibres at the cottage level. This charkha can produce relatively fine yarn with sufficient uniformity from natural fibres which are other wised difficult to spin The fibre after extracted is cleaned and dried before used for spinning. Fineness of the yarn produced depends on the fineness of the fibre used and feeding rate.
The paddling action by the operator puts the flywheel with a large diameter in rotation. The operator hand feed the fibres in between a pair of rollers which take forward the fibre through axial orifice on the spinning mechanism. Spinning mechanism consists of flyer with hooks. The yarn formed after spinning is wound over a bobbin. In CIRCOT-Phoenix Charkha the flyer and the bobbin are driven independently. The differential in the RPM decides the twist per inch (TPI) imparted to the yarn. The TPI of yarn produced can be altered by altering RPMs of the flyer and the bobbin by changing wheels in the drive mechanism.
The main advantage of CIRCOT-Phoenix Charkha is that the quality of yarn produced from it is largely independent of spinning speed. Yarn non-uniformity due changes in spinning speed is reduced to a great extent. An operator with sufficient skill can now achieve better productivity by running the charkha at higher speeds.
Preparation of handicrafts using fibre
Apart from woven and non-woven fabrics and their products, direct use of fibre for preparing handy craft item was also attempted by NAU, Navsari and CIRCOT, Mumbai. At Navsari, the fibres was supplied to NGO viz. ManavKalyan Trust, Navsari for preparing wall hangings, bags, doll, idols, keychain, mobile phone cover, mat for dining table etc. items. Such attempt was made by CIRCOT, Mumbai by using fibre as well as yarn.
Preparation of non woven fabrics using banana fibre and product development
Large scale trials were conducted at Gloster Jute Mills, Kolkata for preparation of non-woven felts. About 3.1 tonnes of banana fibres was converted into non-woven fabric by needle punching method. Fabrics with linear density of 450, 700 and 900 gram/sqm (GSM) were prepared with 2 levels of thickness for each GSM.