Environmental Protection

Texas Tech Researcher: Fibertect Can Hold Oil and Mustard Vapors

As workers battle the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and officials attempt to decontaminate a clam boat that dredged up old munitions containing mustard gas, a Texas Tech University researcher said his product Fibertect® can handle both dirty jobs.

Seshadri Ramkumar, an associate professor of nonwoven technologies, said the Texas Tech-created nonwoven cotton carbon absorbent wipe can clean up crude oil and adsorb toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon vapors reportedly sickening oil spill cleanup crew members. The product also has been tested to remediate mustard vapors such as those found from dumped munitions discovered off the coast of Long Island.

Fibertext recently was approved for use as a sorbent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Ramkumar said: “It definitely has applications for cleaning up the oil spill or this clam boat. Our wipe material is unique from any others in that it easily absorbs liquids, and it has vapor-holding capacity. No product to my knowledge has the capacity to do both.”

Originally developed to protect the U.S. military from chemical and biological warfare agents, Fibertect® contains a fibrous activated carbon center that is sandwiched between layers. The top and bottom layers, made from raw cotton, can absorb oil while the center layer holds volatile compounds, blistering agents or other toxic chemicals.

Ramkumar said his latest research shows that the raw cotton-carbon product can absorb oil up to 15 times its weight.

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