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24 May 2011
ABC TV's Catalyst to feature Deakin PhD candidate, Tarannum Afrin, and her ground-breaking work on bamboo - the novel 'green' material!

The research of Deakin University PhD student Tarannum Afrin will be featured on the ABC TV flagship science program, Catalyst, on June 23 at 8pm.

Working in the Centre for Material and Fibre Innovation at the University’s Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (ITRI), Tarannum has now found the property that gives bamboo its unique sun-blocking characteristics.

Equally importantly, she is developing a method of processing the fibre that is not only environmentally responsible but allows the bamboo to retain its moisture wicking and antibacterial properties.

A former textile engineer who received a judges’ commendation at the University’s Three-Minute Thesis Competition, Tarannum says that bamboo was an emerging fibre for the textile and medical industries.

“Manufacturers have long claimed that bamboo products have a range of properties including excellent appearance and feel, natural antibacterial, UV-shielding and moisture-controlling characteristics,” she said.

“But many of these claims have not been proven scientifically.

“My research identified the component in bamboo which gives it its UV qualities and this research will be published shortly.

“When you take the bamboo plant and make fibre out of it there is also a challenge in retaining the structure of the bamboo which gives it its moisture wicking properties.”

Tarannum said while bamboo was attractive as an alternative natural eco friendly fibre for clothing the method of processing used chemicals and wasn’t friendly to the environment.

“The process we are developing allows us to process the plant into a fibre in an environmentally friendly way while retaining the UV qualities, the wicking and anti-bacterial properties,” she said.

Tarannum said bamboo fibres provided a promising alternative to other natural fibres like cotton and silk which were labour and resource intensive.

“Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and grows to its maximum height in about three months and reaches maturity in three to four years,” she said.

“It can grow up to one metre over night and as a result spreads rapidly across large areas.

“The yield from an acre of bamboo is 10 times greater than that from cotton.”

Tarannum said bamboo also didn’t need pesticides, chemical weeding, insecticides, and fungicide to grow.

“Unlike cotton, bamboo needs no irrigation,” she added, enthusiastically.

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