|Growing Miscanthus for natural fibre|
|The Swiss Company Napac won a technology award for their new patented process for producing natural fibre products to substitute plastics. China grass (Miscanthus sinensis giganteus) is cut and mixed with a natural binder. This is transformed into a granular material with a fibre content of 70-80% which is then moulded into shape by hot and cold presses in a comparable way to injection moulding or deep-drawing machines.
About 500ha of Miscanthus will provide up to 10.000 tons/year of raw material which is capable of yielding up to 25-30 million ‘NaturePots’ (plant pots) when processed by 7-8 hot/cold presses. The process can also use other raw plant materials such as Sedan grass, straw or rice husks that are (as with Miscanthus) cultivated without fertilizers and other plant chemicals.
The resulting pots are sufficiently rigid and precise to use in mechanized and automated handling systems. They can also be used in indoor and outdoor cultivation and with different irrigation systems including ebb&flow. In outdoor cultivation the pots themselves can be planted in the soil (after partially crushing or broken open) to aid rooting and saving on labour and expense associated with removal, collection and disposal of plastic pots. Ordinarily the pots will maintain their structure for 24 months and are completely biodegradable in the soil.
So far, this natural material has been found ideal also for panelling, seats and packaging and from the Company’s Sirnach manufacturing plant in Switzerland the Company is currently negotiating to licence production in other European countries and the USA. The material is 100% biological, compostable (DIN 54 900) and CO2 neutral and fully conforms to modern more responsible horticultural production. ‘NaturePots’ are available in sizes 9x9x10cm, 10.5, 12, 14, 15.5, 17,19 and a taller 1.5 litre pot for roses. For more information: Fax 0041 719691415 E-mail b.murer@napac,ch www.napac.ch