100% milkweed fibers

The demand for renewable raw materials is steadily rising as the drive for a green economy and a sustainable future accelerates. Mounting environmental issues and changing attitudes of consumers have made petroleum-based manufactured products more expensive and less desirable in the present world (as of 2016). Utilization of less valuable lignocellulosic fibres that are abundant and do not require irrigation for their cultivation makes them inexpensive and bio-degradable alternatives to petroleum-based synthetic fibres. These fibres are found in dry habitats in the USA, Asia and South Africa and contain over 2000 species worldwide, the properties of which slightly differ as a result of different soil conditions. In recent years, much research has been carried out into potential applications of milkweed fibre due to its incredible characteristics—such as hollowness, low density and hydrophobicity—particularly in technical textiles. The milkweed plant can adapt to almost any soil condition from swampy and moist to sandy and arid. It is a perennial plant and hence, once planted, does not require replanting each season and does not require any fertilizers, making the plant sustainable. Successful commercialization of milkweed as a crop is dependent upon mechanized harvesting, handling, drying and floss-processing systems. This chapter gives comprehensive information about the history of the milkweed plant and fibres, fibre morphology and characteristics, spinnability of milkweed fibres, fabric properties and potential application of milkweed fibres in such areas as clothing, lightweight composites, oil sorption as well as thermal and acoustic insulation.