Table of Contents
Journal of Applied Chemistry
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 750818, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/750818
Research Article

Extraction and Characterization of Fibres from the Stalk and Spikelets of Empty Fruit Bunch

1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Higher Technical Teachers’ Training College, The University of Bamenda, P.O. Box 34, Bambili, Cameroon
2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ecole Normale Superieur d’ Enseignement Technique (ENSET), University of Douala, Douala, Cameroon
3Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
4School of Engineering, University of Technology, Kingston, Jamaica

Received 19 March 2015; Revised 18 May 2015; Accepted 27 May 2015

Academic Editor: Parsotam H. Parsania

Copyright © 2015 Yakum Reneta Nafu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Fibres from different parts of empty fruit bunch, which is a major solid waste from oil palm processing, were subjected to different pretreatments and characterised for variability in length and diameter, mechanical performance, and proximate and trace element composition. Morphology and surface composition of the fibres were determined using scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray. The fibres were further treated with KOH-boric acid and characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy. Fibre yield was higher for spikelet than stalk. Fibres from stalk were generally larger in diameter and showed significant differences in potassium and galacturonic acid content, strength, and rigidity. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed the widespread occurrence of silica bodies as well as significant differences in the microstructure of stalk and spikelet fibres. Stalk fibres showed a greater level of porosity than spikelet fibres in the section perpendicular to the major axis. The morphology of KOH-boric acid treated fibres suggested higher recalcitrance of spikelet fibres. The significant differences between fibres from stalk and spikelet suggest that EFB, used as feedstock for biobased industries, requires more systematic characterization and separation into stalk and spikelet, which may lead to a more judicious exploitation of this valuable waste.