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index by sub-area 5.2. The integrated production and exploitation of biological materials for non-food uses
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HARMONIA - Hemp as raw material for novel industral applications

Contract nr: QLK5-CT-1999-01505
Project type: CM (Combined Research and Demonstration Project)
Starting date: 01-04-2000
Duration: 48 months
Total cost: 4,816,528 EUR
EC Contribution: 2,489,702 EUR
Scientific Officer: Ciaran MANGAN
Research topic: 5.2. The integrated production and exploitation of biological materials for non-food uses

Abstract:
In a combined RTD and demonstration project the possibilities of a newly developed, very promising bright hemp variety will be explored, and the molecular basis of the high quality will be determined to try to further improve the variety. In the RTD part, the cultivation, harvesting, processing and refinement of the new variety will be tested and optimised. Different qualities of fibre produced will be tested in biodegradable diapers, yarns and composites. To allow improvement of the new variety in the future, the molecular basis leading to the high fibre quality will be determined by physical, spectroscopical and molecular genetic analysis. This will allow the development of new hemp varieties in the future. In the demonstration part, the results of the RTD part will be implemented and commercial utilisation of the variety will be initiated.

Objectives:
In a previously conducted EU project, a new bright hemp variety has been developed whith a fibre quality which compares favourably to that of currently available hemp varieties. Processing of the new bright hemp revealed that the decortication is noticeably better. Less energy was needed to isolate the fibres. Furthermore, the isolated fibres appear to have better quality than that of commonly used hemp varieties. Based on these initial studies the hemp variety looks promising for European agriculture. In order to improve the performance of the new bright hemp variety at all steps of the agronomic production chain, growing conditions for seed multiplication as well as for fibre production of the hemp variety will be tested in the RTD part of the project in a number of European countries. Methods for harvesting raw plant material and isolation of fibres will be analysed and optimised. The obtained fibre material will be processed by various methods (including steam explosion). The chemical composition and physical characteristics of processed fibres will be determined and compared to a standard European hemp-fibre quality. The technical and economical applicability of the obtained fibres in the production process will be analysed. If the quality of the fibres of the new hemp variety meets the demands of the industrial partners a demonstration part will be initiated within the project. The results of the RTD part will be implemented, modifications of the production lines will be conducted, and prototypes of hemp-based composites, biodegradable diapers and dry and wet spun yarns will be produced by the industrial partners. Another objective of the project is to determine the molecular basis for the improved decortication and performance of the fibre. Detailed morphological, physical and chemical analyses of bast fibres will be conducted. Gene expression in bast fibre tissue will be analysed with DNA microarray during various stages of development. Based on the obtained expression patterns and data from the physical and spectroscopic analysis, a sub-selection of genes whose functions are correlated to fibre quality, will be identified. These genes will be isolated and the function of the genes will be determined. A number of these genes will be used to produce transgenic plants that will elucidate the role of these genes in fibre quality. This knowledge will lead to hemp plants with a modified fibre quality. The knowledge obtained in the project will enable the future design of new custom-made hemp varieties for tailor-made industrial applications.


Coordinator
Ben VOSMAN
Plant Research International B.V.
Wageningen
THE NETHERLANDS
Tel.: +31 317476980
Fax: +31 317418094
E-mail: b.vosman@plant.wag-ur.nl


Partners
  Henk VAN DIJKE
Vandijke SEMO b.v.
Scheemda
THE NETHERLANDS
Tel.: +31 597591233
Fax: +31 597593030
E-mail: semo@vandijkesemo.nl
  John HOBSON
Hemcore
Bishops Sortford, Hertfordshire
UNITED KINGDOM
Tel.: +44 1279 504466
Fax: +44 1279 755395
E-mail: hemcore@harlow-ag.co.uk
  Hans JONKER
Culotte Bioproducts B.V.
Capelle aan de IJssel
THE NETHERLANDS
Tel.: +31 102847722
Fax: +31 104513287
E-mail: info@culotte-bioproducts.nl
  Rudolf KESSLER
Fachhochschule Reutlingen, Hochschule für Technik
Reutlingen
GERMANY
Tel.: +49 7121 271536
Fax: +49 7121 271537
E-mail: rudolf.kessler@fh-reutlingen.de
  Helmut ZIMMER
Funder Industrie Gesellschaft m.b.H.
St. Veit/Glan
AUSTRIA
Tel.: +43 4212494320
Fax: +43 4212494324
E-mail: helmut.zimmer@funder.at
  Andrew GRANT
William Ross & Co. ltd
Belfast
UNITED KINGDOM
Tel.: +44 2890 322461
Fax: +44 2890 322265
E-mail: andrew.grant@william-ross.co.uk
  Davide LIBERALATO
Zignago Tessile S.p.A.
Fossalta di Portogruaro
ITALY
Tel.: +39 042124611
Fax: +39 0421246400
E-mail: d.liberalato@zignagotessile.com