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Characterization of Triumfetta Tomentosa B. a bast fiber growing wildly in Kenya

Author(s): J.I.Mwasiagi, T.Phologolo, C.W.Yu, E.Kamalha, L.Kinuthia, Lusweti Kituyi

Triumfetta Tomentosa B(TTB) is one of the plants that grow naturally in the Kenyan forested regions of Mt. Kenya, Aberdares ranges, Kakamega and theMau forest. Traditionally TTB leaves have been used as food, the bark is used to make ropes or weave baskets and the stem is used as firewood. Among the farmers living in theMt. Kenya region, the TTB bark is normally treatment with a bleaching agent (used for general laundry purposes), with an aim of getting a stronger fiber. The objectives of this research work included the study the properties of TTB bast fibers. Comparison with jute fibers was also undertaken to gauge its suitability for use as grain (maize) packingmaterial. TTB stemswere harvested fromMountKenya region, step retted and then characterized. Surface and chemical characterization of the TTB fibers was undertaken using modern equipments such as FT-IR, SEM, XRD and tensile propertymeasurement equipments. The chemical ingredients of the fibers were also determined. The results obtained in this research work using the XRD equipment indicated that TTB fibers have cellulose I structure, which is commonwithmost bast fibers. Comparison of the chemical ingredients of TTB and jute fibers revealed that the raw TTB fibers contained higher percentages of lignin and lower levels of hemicellulose. The treated TTB fibers contained higher levels of cellulose and reduced levels of lignin and hemicellulose. Treated TTB fibers exhibited finer count and higher tensile strength when compared to the raw fibers.

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