Hemp Fiber: Non-Wovens

Hemp fiber is a versatile material that has been gaining popularity in recent years, especially for non-woven usage. Non-woven fabrics are used for a variety of purposes, including erosion control materials, textiles, and industrial applications. Hemp fiber is an excellent choice for non-woven fabrics due to its strength, durability, and sustainability. Hemp fiber was used in this way throughout human history, but became illegal to grow after World War II when it was conflated with marijuana. Thus, what we are seeing now is a resurgence in hemp fiber applications. 

Hemp fiber is pulled out from the stem of the hemp plant and separated from the woody hurd core. It is one of the strongest natural fibers available. It is also more durable than cotton and requires less water and pesticides to grow. These factors make it an eco-friendly option for non-woven fabrics. They are lightweight, breathable, and hypoallergenic. They are also resistant to mold and mildew, making them suitable for use in damp environments.

Hemp fiber is also an excellent choice for industrial applications. Non-woven fabrics made from hemp fiber can be used as filters, insulation, and packaging materials. They are also resistant to UV rays and can withstand high temperatures, making them suitable for use in outdoor and industrial settings.

These qualities make it great for use in erosion control materials such as biodegradable blankets, wattles, and logs. Traditional erosion control materials usually contain a mix of plastic and natural fibers. The plastic components break down into persistant microplastics in the environment which are harmful to fish, humans, and other animals. The natural fibers are generally imported from Asia and are not grown in a sustainable manner. 

Here in Minnesota, the MN Department of Transportation has been testing natural hemp fibers for erosion control at the DOT test facility for several years. The photo above shows the test material. It is state-sponsored research like this that will accelerate the adoption of these materials and create the necessary supply chains. 

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