Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA
Advanced textiles sector needs to go on high gear in utilizing natural and biodegradable raw materials.
Recent research on “Comparison of Oil Sorption Capacity of Nonwoven Sorbents,” published in the peer-reviewed AATCC Journal of Research has shown that all-cotton absorbent pads with nonwoven cotton core performs relatively better in absorbing oils compared to a few commercially available synthetic based nonwovens. In addition, cotton is naturally biodegradable material, which can reduce the burden on the environment.
Cotton’s functionality in different applications must be explored stated Suresh Kotak, Chairman of Textile Advisory Group, Government of India in the recent 80th Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee.
World nations have made a clarion call to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 43% by 2030, which necessitates the use of earth friendly materials in many different applications. Natural fibers such as cotton, kenaf, banana, hemp are getting due attention by the textiles and advanced textiles sector.
Cotton has a composite economy and provides jobs to many in rural areas in developing and poor nations, highlighted Mr. Kotak. It adds economic value to cotton by finding industrial and non-commodity applications.
United States-based Cotton Incorporated has been supporting research in the Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University in enhancing cotton’s role in industrial textiles landscape. For nearly two decades, I have been advocating the capability of cotton in some industrial applications such as toxic oil absorbent in the oil and gas sector. Raw cotton is penetrating the industrial wipe sector as well.
There are opportunities for the cotton textiles and other natural fibers sector to utilize new developments in physics and chemistry disciplines such as low-pressure plasma, as an alternate functional finishing process, to name a few.
Research organizations such as Coimbatore-based The South India Textile Research Association are looking into environmentally friendly cotton finishing methods to reduce environmental pollution.
Recent COVID-19 has duly highlighted the value of cotton in the medical sector. There is a need to undertake more outreach and engagement activities with stakeholders and the end-user community to promote the values of natural fibers as high-performance fibers, wherever applicable.