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Initial Texas Tech-Created Fibertect Field Test a Success

The nonwoven cotton absorbent wipe would be a perfect remediation tool for use by oil spill cleaning crews.

Written by John Davis

Environmentally friendly Fibertect® can absorb oil up to 15 times its weight and is a biodegradable technology.

Developed by Ramkumar, environmentally friendly Fibertect® can absorb oil up to 15 times its weight and is a biodegradable technology.

A preliminary test of Fibertect® on the soiled beaches of Grand Isle, La., has proven it successful at picking up the oily paste washing ashore at beaches and marshes across the Gulf State region.

Seshadri Ramkumar, an associate professor of nonwoven technologies, said the Texas Tech-created nonwoven cotton absorbent wipe with activated carbon core makes it a perfect remediation tool for use by cleaning crews trying to remove the toxic material.

Not only did it clean up the rust-colored crude oil, but also it adsorbed toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon vapors reportedly sickening oil spill clean-up crew members.

“It definitely has proven itself a perfect product for cleaning up the oil spill,” Ramkumar said. “This preliminary test in Louisiana has shown that our wipe material is unique from others in that it easily absorbs liquids, and it has vapor-holding capacity. This will help workers clean beaches and stay safe at the same time.”

Ramkumar said his latest research shows raw cotton-carbon Fibertect® can absorb oil up to 15 times its weight. Unlike synthetic materials like polypropylene that are currently used in many oil containment booms, Fibertect® is made from environmentally friendly raw cotton and carbon.

Shocking Results

Amit Kapoor is president of First Line Technology, which distributes Fibertect® commercially. Though the product has been tested in the lab with raw crude and motor oil, he said the company wanted to field-test the product.

Earlier this week, he sent a sales representative, who also works as an independent contractor for BP, to one of the worst-hit areas.

“We wanted to test the effectiveness of Fibertect® on the crude oil for beach cleanup,” Kapoor said. “Fibertect® was taken to the empty beaches of Grand Isle, and then laid out on top of a blob of oil that had settled on the beach. It worked very well in absorbing and containing the oil. The glob stuck to the Fibertect® and did not release from the material.”

Though Kapoor said he had seen Fibertect® pick up similar material with a pasty consistency, such as petroleum jelly, the results shocked the sales representative sent to run the experiment.

“Our representative was shocked because he hadn’t seen a product work like that with the speed or the effectiveness,” Kapoor said. “He showed many other contractors that were working on the beach and they were impressed as well.”

Watch the Fibertect® Wipe in Action

Ron Kendall, director of TIEHH, demonstrates how Texas Tech-made Fibertect could help clean up oil in the Gulf. Read more >>

Multi-use Product

Fibertect® was approved for use as a sorbent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ramkumar said. The product already has proven that it can also adsorb toxic fumes associated with chemical remediation, he said. Evaluation by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found that it can retain offgassing mustard vapors efficiently and does not shed loose particles.

Originally developed to protect the U.S. military from chemical and biological warfare agents, Fibertect® contains a fibrous activated carbon center that is sandwiched between layers.

The top and bottom layers, made from raw cotton, can absorb oil while the center layer holds volatile compounds such as the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or blistering agents such as mustard vapors or other toxic chemicals.

“Fibertect® already has proven to be effective in the bulk decontamination of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals, but our proposal here is to use it to aid in the clean-up efforts in the Gulf,” Kapoor said. “Fibertect® allows for a green, environmentally safe, biodegradable technology that is perfect for the expanding effort to protect and decontaminate coastal lands and wildlife. We welcome the opportunity to work with the government, BP or anyone else in a joint effort to defend and preserve our planet.”

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10 Responses to “Initial Texas Tech-Created Fibertect Field Test a Success”

  1. The Chronic Chronicles » Blog Archive » Novel Cloth Material Designed to Counter Bio-Attacks Can Absorb, Detoxify Crude Oil Says:

    [...] about how different materials respond to all kinds of offending substances. In the case of one Texas Tech University professor, a cloth wipe he developed to absorb and contain agents of biological warfare for the [...]

  2. Novel Cloth Material Designed to Counter Bio-Attacks Can Absorb, Detoxify Crude Oil :: Texas Tech News Says:

    [...] about how different materials respond to all kinds of offending substances. In the case of one Texas Tech University professor, a cloth wipe he developed to absorb and contain agents of biological warfare for the [...]

  3. Novel cloth material designed to counter bio-attacks can absorb, detoxify crude oil | Popular Science Says:

    [...] about how different materials respond to all kinds of offending substances. In the case of one Texas Tech University professor, a cloth wipe he developed to absorb and contain agents of biological warfare for the [...]

  4. Finally, a promising way to clean up the oil spill - SmartPlanet Says:

    [...] The shovels and bags are nice, but this nonwoven cotton absorbent wipe would be much better as it can absorb 15 times its weight. The environmentally friendly material is called Fibertect®. [...]

  5. Interesting tech for 21 to 25 June 2010 — KnowIT Says:

    [...] SUCKY FIBRE: Fibertect cotton has an activated carbon core. The fabric both blots up crude oil and captures its nasty vapours. How much for 24,000 square kilometres of material, please? [...]

  6. Oil Spill yet to solve Slippery (but here are some videos) Says:

    [...] Tech’s Fibertect wipe slurps up oil from water surfaces, and possibly oil-drenched animals as well. But again, how many [...]

  7. blacklink-tech » Oil Spill Still Too Slippery To Solve (But Here Are Some Videos) Says:

    [...] Tech’s Fibertect wipe slurps up oil from water surfaces, and possibly oil-drenched animals as well. But again, how many [...]

  8. Binomial Revenue » Blog Archive » Oil Spill Still Too Slippery To Solve (But Here Are Some Videos) Says:

    [...] Tech’s Fibertect wipe slurps up oil from water surfaces, and possibly oil-drenched animals as well. But again, how many [...]

  9. Oil Spill Still Too Slippery To Solve (But Here Are Some Videos) « Whella – Latest News on Wireless Topics Says:

    [...] Tech’s Fibertect wipe slurps up oil from water surfaces, and possibly oil-drenched animals as well. But again, how many [...]

  10. Oil Spill Still Too Slippery To Solve (But Here Are Some Videos) | TechShadez Says:

    [...] Tech’s Fibertect wipe slurps up oil from water surfaces, and possibly oil-drenched animals as well. But again, how many [...]

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Featured Expert
Seshadri Ramkumar

Seshadri Ramkumar is an associate professor of nonwoven materials and countermeasures to biological and chemical threats in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH).

View his profile in our online Experts Guide.

TIEHH
TIEHH

The Institute of Environmental and Human Health develops environmental and health sciences research and education at Texas Tech and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

The institute's goal is to position Texas Tech as an internationally recognized force in the integration of environmental impact assessment of toxic chemicals with human health consequences, framed in the context of science-based risk assessment to support sound environmental policy and law.

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