Research Background (Why kenaf?)

Paper and paper products play an important part in the world around us.

This lesson provides

  • a practical research problem
  • an introduction to the technology of papermaking
  • a hands-on activity
  • other enrichment activities related to papermaking

    Historical overview of paper making and the shortage of raw materials:
         As papermaking technology spread, the usefulness and necessity of paper increased the demand for it. The first American papermakers, accustomed to using rags or worn out clothing as a fiber source, were regularly faced with shortages of these raw materials for papermaking. Even after trees became a fiber source for paper makers, it became obvious that other fiber sources were also needed.
         Although it was once hoped that the increased use of computers would usher in a world of paperless offices and a decrease in paper demand, the opposite has occurred. Computer use has actually increased paper use, and therefore the demand for additional fiber sources continues to grow. World consumption of paper is expected to increase by 75% in the next 15 years.
          In the search for new, economical, and environmentally friendly fiber sources, kenaf was studied as a possible solution. It is a high-yielding fiber plant that could be a profitable crop for southern farmers, but unless an adequate and reliable supply is available to manufacturers, its widespread use will be limited.