The Philippines makes around 1.35 billion kilos of banana fruit stalk wastes every year. These stalks need not be thrown away, they can be made into thermal insulation boards.

What can be done with banana processing wastes?

A researcher from the Department of Science and Technology-Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) says that if these wastes are banana fruit stalks (also called peduncles), they can be used to make thermal insulation boards.

According to the Institute’s Engr. Gilberto N. Sapin, “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 banana and therefore, one of the top generators of banana fruit stalk wastes. 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 thru 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, July 11, 2022)#