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Environmental Protection - Clean Up Oil Spills with Low-Grade Cotton

In a new study, researchers used unprocessed raw cottons to soak up oil, becoming one of the first studies to collect data on cotton and oil spills. Seshadri Ramkumar, the lead author of the study, said that he and his colleagues found that low-micronaine cotton is the most effective type of cotton at soaking up oil. Because this type of cotton is low-quality, it could also prove to be a cheaper option for cleaning up oil spills.

“In this region, about 10 percent of the cotton grown in West Texas is low micronaire,” said Ramkumar. “It doesn’t take a dye well, so it gets discounted. However, because low-micronaire cotton is less mature, it shrinks, and you are able to pack more fiber into a given area. The strength here is that the low-micronaire cotton absorbs the most crude oil. The oil is not only stuck to surface, the oil gets absorbed into the fiber.”

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