A new technique (U.S.

A new technique (U.S. Patent 6767634) is said to open up bast fi ber bundles of kenaf, fl ax, or jute without breaking the fi bers. Developed by Natural Fiber Composites Corp., a spin-off of R&D fi rm Engineering Mechanics Corp. (Emc2), Columbus, Ohio, the method can use ultrasonic vibrations in water to split apart the fi bers. About 90% of the resulting fi bers have a cross-section less than 700 sq microns. Up to 45% fi brillated kenaf has been blended into PP pellets for injection molding, says inventor Prabhat Krishnaswamy, president of Natural Fiber Composites and v.p. of Emc2. Natural-fi ber composites are typically compression molded from nonwoven mats of bast and PP fi bers. Emc2: (614) 459-3200 . www.emc-sq.com