Greening the fibre

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

jute workers of West Bengal got a fresh lease of life with the development of a substitute for the environmentally suspect jute batching oil (jbo). The Jute Technological Research Laboratory (jtrl) in West Bengal has developed a process of softening the jute fibre that can substitute jbo in an inexpensive and eco-friendly manner while using minimal energy. A combination of fungus, Penicillium , Corlyophilum , and an emulsion of castor, mahua , palm, rapeseed and linseed, softens the hard root cuttings of jute and smoothens the subsequent processing of fibres in mini-jute spinning system. Jute workers in the state have joined hands with researchers to make the best use of the technological breakthrough made by jtrl , a constituent of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. jbo, a hydrocarbon, is used in the batching of jute fibres by jute mills. Researchers had found that it was being used beyond permissible limits by mill owners. Overuse of jbo poses the risk of carcinogenicity and also leaves an offensive smell. Export of jute products had suffered because of such overuse.

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