Natural fibres

Cellulose-containing vegetable raw materials can be pretreated, separated and processed into biobased products. Lignocellulosic fibres (‘natural fibres’) are important base materials for the biobased economy. They can be used in a wide range of materials, including composites, paper, textile and building materials.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops natural fibre-based materials, natural fibre-reinforced (bio)plastics and thermosets, and processing technologies for natural fibre composites.

Research into raw materials and market opportunities

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research carries out broad research into cellulose fibres. We study which fibrous raw materials are suitable for which applications and can be processed with specific processing technologies (such as biorefinery, pulping, compounding, spinning or weaving).  We also look at which by-products from agriculture, nature or infrastructure management contain suitable fibres for technical applications. Finally, we research which markets have the most opportunities for specific fibre products. Our knowledge of market developments and production chains ensures that our innovations have an excellent chance of success. We are actively involved in national and international knowledge networks in the field of cellulose and fibre applications, such as the European projects EPNOE, FIBRA and COST.

Working methods and patents

The natural fibre materials we make have their origins in a number of by-products from agriculture and horticulture or nature management, including tomato stems, capsicum and maize residue, oil palm by-products, straw, roadside grass or sugar cane. The development of these products into semi-manufactured or end products is realised in cooperation with the industry. With equipment at the pilot scale, such as extruders, heated presses and injection moulding machines, we can process raw materials for our clients. All international standards are complied with when analysing product characteristics.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has patents for various technologies. Examples include our patent for a biorefinery digestion technology based on acetic acid (for the production of dissolving cellulose, pentosan and lignin) and for an extrusion-compounding technology to produce granulate (from natural fibres in polypropylene or bioplastics). The benefit of the latter technology is that the material has similar characteristics to glass fibre, while it is inexpensive, lightweight and reusable. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research markets its research by licensing patents.