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Newsline-National | September 2014

Absorbent nonwoven cotton mat for oil spills

Researchers at Lubbock, Texas-based Texas Tech University (TTU) have engineered a absorbent mat using low-grade cotton that can collect up to 50 times its own weight in oil. Seshadri Ramkumar, professor, Department of Environmental Toxicology, TTU, and creator of Fibertect-« nonwoven decontamination wipes, led the research project. He was assisted by doctoral student Vinitkumar Singh, who performed the experiments during the four-year project. The multidisciplinary research included scientists from Cary, N.C.-based Cotton Incorporated as well as researchers from TTU´s Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Toxicology. The team tried to develop a fundamental understanding behind the effect of fiber structure and basic cotton characteristics on oil sorption capacity of unprocessed raw cotton, as well as examine the basic mechanisms behind oil sorption by nonwoven cotton webs.

Findings were published in the American Chemical Society´s journal´ Industry & Engineering Chemistry Research.´ ´With the 2010 crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in the major spill of about 4.9 million barrels of oil, it became apparent that we needed new clean-up technologies that did not add stress to the environment,´ said Ramkumar.

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