Have you heard about alternative to a cotton fabric – a ramie fabric? Me no, until last week, when I bought a new pair of trousers with the strange ingredient list:
|pocket lining – cotton||100%|
The fabric of trousers looked really god, but “ramie” seemed suspicious. and that is only because I did not heard about it before. Now, when I have read about it, it seems to be one of a new edge for exploration and wonder.
Ramie is a kind of a plant from the Nettle family.
My any possible olden connection between nettle and fabric or clothes was in regard to the Brother Grim’s fairy-tale “The Six Swans”. In the fairy-tale, the sister needed to weave shirts from nettle for her six brothers (in another version of the fairy tale – from asters). More so, she needed to weave them within six years keeping total silence – the magic to redeem her brothers from a shape of swans would disappear forever if she would utter.
One could find the interesting interpretations of “The Six Swans” fairy-tale which are given here as the references 1 and 2 (below the post). Fairy-tale based cartoon is also available online (3).
Strong moral lesson, however, could be seen at the end (or this is just the beginning?) of the fairy tale: it is dangerous to withstand against the evil – the arrows will turn back and could injure. Let the evil stay alone, and it will destroy itself in the own-created fire of anger.
Let the evil stay alone, and it will destroy itself in the own-created fire of anger.Dr. A. Palatronis
What is RAMIE?
Ramie (Boehmeria niveau, genus Urtica) is made of natural fibers and is a kind of the Nettle family. Ramie is also called China grass, grass linen, grass cloth or China linen. Species of Boehmeria do not have stinging hairs, although they are related to the similar-looking species of the stinging nettles. So, ramie plant does not sting!
Natural fibers, depending on their origin, are grouped into (4):
|Bast||Ramie, flax, kenaf/mesta, hemp and jute|
|Leaf||Sisal, pineapple leaf fibre (PALF) and henequen|
|Fruit||Coconut husk, i. e., coir|
Ramie is a Bast natural fiber
Ramie in textile
Ramie fibers are the longest and one of the strongest fine textile fibers and mostly available and used in China, Japan and Malaysia. Ramie poses essentially advanced properties as an textile material, such as holding shape, less wrinkling, silky luster, special cooling feel, high absorbency, good air permeability, as well as a green, ecological and functional fiber (5).
Ramie consists mainly of cellulose (68-76%), lignin (0.6-0.7%), hemicellulose (13-17%), pectin (1.9%), wax (0.3%) (4).
Ramie degumming for textile
For textile purposes, gummy materials such as hemicellulose, pectin and wax are treated as impurities. raw ramie plant material is available as a spinnable cellulosic component in textile only after removing of gummy materials. Degumming (removal of gummy materials) could be achieved by using different procedures (5):
Degumming techniques for ramie raw and/or decorticated material (5):
- chemical (old-fashion technique)
- enzymatic (clean, environmentally friendly technique, but slow and not sufficient, as any other enzymatically-based methods)
- bacterial with natural polymers (calcium alginate)
- enzymatic with minerals (hydroxyapatite nanoparticles)
- combination of chemical and enzymatic methods (sufficient)
- low temperature plasma treatment (combined with wet-chemical process, very sufficient). Example of wet-chemical process – liquid ammonia treatment which was introduced by the Norwegian Textile Research in 1963 (6)
- low temperature plasma treatment (combined with enzymatic method – promising and environmentally friendly technique (5))
- and others
In other words, it is not enough just to wear raw ramie bast to get a textile.
Ramie in ballistics
Interesting. Novel and promising ballistic ramie fabric epoxy-composite was developed by Brazilian scientists in collaboration with US scientists, competing with conventional Kevlar™ fabric in multilayered armor (7).
Ramie in biomaterials
Ramie suture has been investigated as a biomaterial. It showed high efficiency in closing and healing of the wounds leaving no scars on the wounded area (8).
Fabric of the future
The online journal “Financial express” calls ramie the fabric of the future (9).
- Fairy Tale Analysis: The Six Swans by Chris Lemay, available online on https://medium.com/@chrislemay/the-six-swans-multimodal-essay-5ad6f24293a1
- Saving the Day with Sewing and Flowers: The Grimms’ “The Six Swans” by Mari Ness, available online on https://www.tor.com/2018/11/29/saving-the-day-with-sewing-and-flowers-the-six-swans/
- Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics The Six Swans, available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKPtShfBadw
- Mohanty A, Misra Ma, Hinrichsen G. Biofibres, biodegradable polymers and biocomposites: An overview. Macromolecular materials and Engineering. 2000;276(1):1-24
- Shen M, Wang L, Long J. Biodegumming of ramie fiber with pectinases enhanced by oxygen plasma. J Clean Prod. 2015;101:395-403
- Li J, Feng J, Zhang H, Zhang J. Wear properties of hemp, ramie and linen fabrics after liquid ammonia/crosslinking treatment. Fibres & Textiles in Eastern Europe. 2010;18(5):81-5
- Monteiro SN, Milanezi TL, Louro LHL, Lima Jr ÃP, Braga FO, Gomes AV, et al. Novel ballistic ramie fabric composite competing with Kevlarâ„¢ fabric in multilayered armor. Mater Des. 2016;96:263-9
- Kandimalla R, Kalita S, Choudhury B, Devi D, Kalita D, Kalita K, et al. Fiber from ramie plant (Boehmeria nivea): a novel suture biomaterial. Materials Science and Engineering: C. 2016;62:816-22.
- Weaving its mark: Sustainable, eco-friendly Ramie promises to be a fabric of the future by Ananaya Banerjee, published: March 25, 2018, available online: https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/weaving-its-mark-sustainable-eco-friendly-ramie-promises-to-be-a-fabric-of-the-future/1110128/
Photo of the swans in the sea, February 2020, by Dr. A. Palatronis on www.z-antenna.com