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Technology: Texas finds fresh fibres for tomorrow's news

作者:钦裰    发布时间:2019-02-28 03:12:04    

PART of the world’s insatiable demand for wood pulp to make newsprint may soon be filled by a fast-growing plant related to cotton and okra. The plant, called kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), resembles bamboo, though it is not related. Cultivators are growing it in an area at the southern tip of Texas. The Kenaf Paper Company, formed to produce newsprint from the plant, is investing $40 million to set up a small paper mill that should be turning out 84 tonnes of newsprint every day by 1991. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is promoting the technology, the paper made from kenaf is brighter and stronger than conventional newsprint. It also allows less ink to rub off on readers’ hands. The department believes that kenaf could eventually account for 2 per cent of the 12 million tonnes of newsprint used by American publishers every year. Kenaf is native to Africa. People use it there and in Asia to make rope, twine and paper. The American agriculture department has been studying kenaf and other fibre crops since 1956, in an effort to find alternatives to wood pulp for paper-making. Kenaf has one outstanding advantage over trees: it is a fast-growing annual, reaching a height of between 5 and 6 metres in just five months. Kenaf tolerates salty water and grows well in the hot Rio Grande Valley, an area of Texas that has been hit by declines in the oil and gas industries. Much of the $40 million that the Kenaf Paper Company is investing will go into dismantling a wood-pulp mill in Minnesota, moving the mill to Texas,

 

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