Wood Veneer Made from Banana Tree Trunks
August 1, 2015 | 9:37 am CDT
Veneer made from banana tree trunk, available from Materials Inc., Hackensack, NJ
Papyrus Australia Ltd is the developer of a technology that converts the waste trunk of the banana palm into alternatives to forest wood products to be used in the paper, packaging, furniture, building, construction and other industries. The process converts the waste trunk of the banana palm into alternatives to forest wood products to be used in the paper, packaging, furniture, building, construction and other industries. Some of the characteristics of the Papyrus technology products include natural water resistance, fire resistance and UV resistance.
Materials Inc., Hackensack, NJ, a wholesale distributor of architectural products ranging from veneers, and wall panels, to doors, flooring, and specialty products, carries a version of banana based veneer, which it brands Apeel. It is made in Martinique.
Developing projects in multiple countries, including Egypt and China, Papyrus Australia says its banana trunk conversion yields wood products with qualities not found in existing wood-based products due to the ability to preserve the inherent natural qualities of the banana tree trunk. The Banana palm is not a tree but a flowering plant in the genus Musa.


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Papyrus Australia has developed a patented plantation-based manufacturing process to produce panel and veneer products from the banana plant, which dies once it produces a banana crop. Here is their description of the manufacturing process:

The round up process removes the outer layer from the banana tree trunk and prepares the resultant core for subsequent manufacturing operations. The outer layer of the banana tree trunk is removed as a single, continuous length of material of constant thickness using a patented type of spindle-less lathe. 
After the outer layer is removed from the banana tree trunk, the resultant core is used in the core veneer process. The core veneer process also uses a type of spindle-less lathe, but differs from the round up lathe in that the cutting process is undertaken with a higher degree of accuracy allowing production of thin veneers.
The round up process and core veneer process occur in the Beta Veneering Unit.
The dewatering process is similar for both the round up and core veneer processes and uses a combination of mechanical squeezing through rollers and thermal drying in an oven. The dewatering process is optimised to meet material quality specifications and minimise energy use. 
In the panel manufacturing process, the outer layer sheets are slitted and diced to produce unique homogeneous fibre chips of uniform size and thickness. The fibre chips are then mixed with adhesive and pressed to the required density.
Non-permeable and not transmitting grease, oils, solvents or moisture, even at low thickness, banana veneers are said to be compatible with most adhesives and will not transmit chemicals prior to curing. The veneers also require no sanding and less sealing and coating than conventional veneers, according to  Papyrus Australia.
Interchangeable with existing wood-based panel products including plywood, particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), insulating board and hardboard, the banana palm veneers and other wood products are said to be compatible with existing construction methods and practices. The natural strength of banana fibres gives excellent panel product strength. As fibers run the entire width of each veneer sheet, it provides good structural properties, especially if multiple layers are laminated at 90° to one another.
According to Papyrus Australia, the Papyrus technology products have been successfully internally benchmarked against existing wood-based products and can be cross referenced to any international particleboard standard such as BSEN 312 P4 to P1 or ANSI A208.1.

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.