Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA
Technical applications of cotton are finding applications in crisis management scenarios.
Recently, India’s largest oil and gas company, ONGC uses cotton-based absorbent mats for absorbing oil spills. Cotton-based filters are finding applications in face covers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 situation has revealed that cotton influences the stability of viruses, which is important in developing countermeasures products like masks from cellulosic materials. Research efforts have highlighted cotton destabilizes virus relatively quickly than plastics. Cotton is an established fiber in fiber to fashion supply chain and genuine interest is emerging to explore new applications for cotton in health and environmental sectors.
Slowly, cotton products are penetrating into crisis management situations in health care and environmental sectors. For 21 years, the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University managed by this scribe has been researching on advanced applications of cotton. Recently, the research activities are getting commercial acceptance. One recent recognition has been international, with the acceptance of the cotton-based mat as an oil absorbent by India’s leading oil exploration public sector entity, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Ltd. (ONGC). Recently, during July 10-12, cotton-based absorbent pads have been effectively used by ONGC at its Godavari river delta oil well sites in Rajahmundry.
ONGC is India’s largest crude and natural gas company and is ranked 18th among global players in oil and gas operations with over 30,000 employees. Penetration of cotton-based absorbent technology into this premier Indian company is a milestone with regard to the acceptance of cotton as a high performance fiber. Cotton-based nonwoven mats have moved along from the testing phase to commercial use phase, according to Nambi Srinivasan, vice president of Chennai, India-based WellGro United.
This scribe has been collaborating with WellGro United and its partners to translate ideas to market place. Speaking about the acceptance of the product by ONGC, Nambi Srinivasan stated, “It was a much awaited and prestigious order for us. With the recent positive field results of cotton-based pads, at an ONGC site, we are confident that the ONGC’s order opens-up new opportunities globally.”
In a similar vein, cotton-based nonwoven mats are finding applications as filters in face covers. Lubbock-based Scarborough Specialties has released face covers with cotton nonwoven filters, which evolved out of research in our Nonwovens Laboratory.