It is well known residual gum exists in degummed or retted hemp fibres. Gum removal results in improvement in fibre fineness and the properties of the resultant hemp yarns. However, it is not known what correlation if any exists between the residual gum content in retted hemp fibres and the fibre fineness, described in terms of fibre width in this paper. This study examined the mean width and coefficient of variation (CV) of fibre width of seventeen chemically retted hemp samples with reference to residual gum content. The mean and CV of fibre width were obtained from an Optical fibre diameter analyser (OFDA 100). The linear regression analysis results show that the mean fibre width is directly proportional to the residual gum content. A slightly weaker linear correlation also exists between the coefficient of variation of fibre width and the residual gum content. The strong linear co-relation between the mean of fibre width and the residual gum content is a
significant outcome, since testing for fibre width using the OFDA is a much simpler and quicker process than testing the residual gum content. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) reinforces the OFDA findings. SEM micrographs show a flat ribbon like fibre cross-section hence the term “fibre width” is used instead of fibre diameter. Spectral differences in the untreated dry decorticated skin samples and chemically treated and subsequently carded samples indicate delignification. The peaks at 1370 cm−1, 1325 cm−1, 1733 cm−1, and 1600 cm−1 attributed to lignin in the untreated samples are missing from the spectra of the treated samples. The spectra of the treated samples are more amine-dominated with some of the OH character lost.
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