Texas Tech Nonwoven Cotton Expert Available to Discuss Cotton as Cleanup Medium for
Oil Rig Spill
May 17, 2010
The same Texas Tech-created nonwoven cotton technology that keeps soldiers safe may
also sop up oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
The same Texas Tech-created nonwoven cotton technology that keeps soldiers safe
from chemical and biological warfare agents may also serve as the perfect sponge for
sopping up oil that has polluted the Gulf of Mexico.
As oil continues to gush from the exploded Deepwater Horizon oil rig, a Texas Tech
University expert in nonwoven cotton technology says the fabric of our lives may do
a better job to absorb the oil spill than the booms made of synthetic material.
“Already, several million feet of the oil-containment booms have been used to capture
the oil spilling into the Gulf,” said Seshadri Ramkumar, associate professor of Nonwoven
materials at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH). “They are made
of synthetic materials, don’t biodegrade and absorb only a third of what raw cotton
can do. The properties of raw cotton allow it to soak up 40 times its weight. With
chemical modifications, it can soak up to as much as 70 times its weight. And it won’t
just stay in a landfill forever.”
Ramkumar’s research focuses on developing value-added materials using nonwoven materials
and nanotechnology. He supervises the Nonwoven and Advanced Materials Laboratory at
He is the creator of several nonwoven cotton technologies including Fibertect™, which
is used in the U.S. military’s decontamination kits. He and a small group of his graduate
students are researching ways to use lower-quality cottons that don’t make apparel
grade for uses such as this.
“The nonwoven industry in the United States is well equipped with technologies that
can develop oil-absorbent pads from natural fibers like cotton,” Ramkumar said.
CONTACT: Seshadri Ramkumar, associate professor of nonwoven technologies, The Institute
of Environmental and Human Health, Texas Tech University, (806) 885-4567, or email@example.com.