We usually associate Egypt’s contribution to civilization with ancient achievements, like pyramids and hieroglyphics. But three Egyptian scientists are trying to change that. They have managed to extract long fibers with excellent properties from a plentiful bio-source that was previously overlooked: date palms. With a potential 1.3 million tons of date palm fibers per year, Egypt could become an important source of high tech bio-fibers for fabrics and reinforcements. But the road to get there is long.

Egyptian scientists Mohamad Midani, Ahmed Hassanin and Tamer Hamouda received their Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science at North Carolina State University. “That is where we got to know each other,” says Tamer Hamouda, associate professor at National Research Center, Egypt. “We worked at the same department, got involved with fiber reinforced composites, and were interested in natural fibers. After we finished our Ph.D., we returned to Egypt. We got together to look for new reinforcement materials. Many people use flax, jute, hemp and other natural materials. Mohamad said: ‘Why not use palm trees?’”

Date palm trees can thrive in harsh environmental conditions like deserts and drylands. That makes them an important resource with a long standing history. Dates are not just a staple of Egypt’s diet, they play a large part in the country’s economy as well (See Figure 1). With a global market share of 18 percent (23 percent in the Arab world), Egypt is the largest producer of dates in the world.

This article appeared in the January–February 2021 issue of Reinforced Plastics. Log in to your free materialstoday.com profile to access the article.

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