Workshop - Optimization of Retting Processes for Canadian Agricultural Fibres

The CIC, through it's FibreCITY initiative, hosted a workshop on March 21-22, 2016, to launch a new initiative focused on developing improved retting methods for agricultural fibres. Extraction of fibre from straw requires a source of consistent, pre-retted feedstock to produce a high performance, industrial grade material with predictable properties. Retting is important to fibre quality because it is a process that breaks down the glue-like components of the stem (mainly pectin) allowing the fibres to be easily removed. Optimal retting practices significantly reduce the energy and equipment required to perform fibre extraction. Field-based retting methods are well developed in Europe and successfully used in that region for production of industrial fibre flax. However, the existing methods are not applicable to the Canadian growing environment and plant varieties. Development of appropriate retting technologies therefore represents a critical technical gap impacting the Canadian supply chain for industrial grade fibre.  

Attendees at the workshop included scientific and agronomic experts from across Canada, well as various agricultural producers, fibre processors, and industrial end users. The event resulted in definition of project to develop a retting approach tailored to conditions on the Canadian prairie region, and specifically the flax and hemp crops that are commonly grow in this area. The first phase of this collaborative project has been started, with crop growing and handling trials currently underway for the 2016 season.  

For more information on this project, please contact:

Shawna DuCharme
Principal Engineer
Product Innovation
(204) 262-3400 Ext. 223
sducharme@compositesinnovation.ca