Indo-American Collaborative Cotton Product Can Absorb Oil Spills Quickly and Durably | KLBK | KAMC
LUBBOCK, Texas (press release) – The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:
On Sunday (October 3), approximately 126,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean after a pipeline burst near the southern coast of California. Today, the US Coast Guard is racing against time to contain the spill and mitigate environmental damage.
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University, together with his research team and Indian company Jayalakshmi Textiles, developed a durable cotton product that can absorb oil. instantly.
“Oil spills have become a recurring problem around the world, destroying wildlife habitats, compromising food sources and threatening human health,” Ramkumar said. “With this product, Texas Tech is at the forefront of research in oil-absorbent materials.”
Using inferior untreated cotton, Ramkumar and his team developed an absorbent non-woven mat capable of collecting 50 times its own weight in oil. Low micronaire raw cotton is hydrophobic, which means it will float on the surface of the water without sinking – ideal for absorbing toxic oil.
While most commercial oil absorbing materials are synthetic, this mat is made from natural materials that are biodegradable and safe for marine life. The product is ready to dispense and available in 100% cotton or 90% cotton formulations – both are reusable and environmentally friendly.
“Microplastics are harmful to ocean life, so the use of synthetic materials to deal with oil spills ultimately worsens the problem of ocean pollution,” Ramkumar said. “Cotton products are more durable and will not contaminate the ocean with microplastics.”
Ramkumar and his team were inspired by the search for oil absorption technology after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, which dumped nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Now, Texas Tech’s research could have significant environmental implications in the wake of the devastating California oil spill.
This work highlights the importance of scientific collaboration between India and the United States. Timely Indo-American collaborations could prove invaluable to the continued development of sustainable technology.
The foundational work in Ramkumar’s lab was supported by Cotton Incorporated.
(Texas Tech University press release)