Banana fruit stalk promising material for composite boards

When climate change is making our weather systems go bananas, how do we best adapt our structures to it? A researcher from the DOST-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) may just have peeled off the answer.

According to the Institute’s Engineer Gilberto N. Sapin, waste banana fruit stalks (also called peduncles) can be used to make thermal insulation boards. “Our study shows that fibers from the fruit stalk of the saba banana (Musa paradisiaca) are promising material for composite insulation boards. Such boards can be used in tropical countries to keep heat outside of homes and buildings. The sample panels we produced are not yet perfect. We still need to make a few adjustments on them, but our initial findings are very encouraging.”

The Philippines is one of the world’s top producers of bananas and, therefore, one of the top generators of waste banana fruit stalk. In Mindanao alone, some 1.35 billion kilos of these stalks are produced every year and left in the fields to rot.

Reports Sapin, “Mixed with the right amount of fibers and binders, the banana peduncle fibers we studied gave us boards suitable for thermal insulation. For tropical countries like the Philippines which are getting hotter temperatures due to the climate crisis, insulation panels will be very useful as they keep heat outside of homes and buildings.”

The findings formed part of Sapin’s thesis for his MS in Material Science at the University of the Philippines-Diliman under the supervision of Dr. Leslie Joy L. Diaz.

At DOST-FPRDI, Sapin also learned through an initial study that the peduncle fibers of lagkitan banana (Musa acuminata) are also promising material for composite boards. At present, natural fiber composites are commonly used worldwide for walls, ceilings, floors and cabinets, crates, and car parts. (Rizalina K. Araral, DOST-FPRDI)