February 9, 2009
TIEHH's recently developed decontamination wipe will be used to clean up chemical warfare agents and toxic chemicals.
The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University announces a partnership with Enercon Industries Corp. that will combine each organization’s expertise to develop technology to advance the functionality of nonwovens and technical textiles.
Seshadri Ramkumar, an associate professor in the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory of TIEHH, said the partnership seeks to explore the opportunities of commercializing atmospheric plasma technology in the nonwovens and specialty fabrics industry to make apparel-grade nonwovens and other value-added fabrics, such as liquid-repellant fabrics and breathable protective fabrics.
Plasma technology is a surface modification treatment technique using gasses for the nonwoven and technical textile industry to modify the surface of the materials. This makes it suitable for various desired applications, such as making a fabric more or less absorbent, he said. Before, this treatment could be carried out only at low pressure, which was not commercially feasible. Recently, atmospheric pressure plasma technology was developed in which the plasma treatment could be achieved in normal atmospheric pressure.
“We are very excited at the possibilities of working with Enercon,” Ramkumar said. “Initial lab trials indicate that Enercon’s atmospheric plasma technology improves a nonwoven fabric’s breathability by as much as 95 percent, which is a welcoming result for exploring atmospheric plasma for a number of value-added applications.”
Rory Wolf, Enercon’s vice president of business development, said his corporation has pioneered the use of atmospheric plasma in a number of industries including textiles during the last decade.
“Success with enhancing the wettability and dyeability of textiles is well-proven,” Wolf said. “Texas Tech’s leading-edge material expertise will allow us to apply and advance our technology for even greater surface functionality of industrial fabrics.”
Texas Tech’s Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at TIEHH focuses on fundamental and applied research activities to develop sophisticated materials that help with improving human health and the environment. Most recently, a non-particulate nonwoven decontamination wipe which has applications in military and homeland security came out of TIEHH’s nonwoven research.
Enercon Industries Corporation, headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wis., is a major manufacturer of equipment for the plastics and packaging industries. The company supplies custom built bare-roll, covered-roll and universal roll corona treating systems, atmospheric plasma treating systems, 3-D surface treaters and 3-D plasma treaters for the plastics and rubber industries.
Seshadri Ramkumar is an assistant professor of nonwoven materials and countermeasures to biological and chemical threats at TIEHH.
View his profile in our online Experts Guide.