Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Environmental Analysis
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Low-Grade Cotton Brings Top Value in Oil Spill Cleanup

Published: Monday, May 20, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, May 20, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Ecologically friendly discovery is joint effort between Texas Tech University, Cotton Incorporated.

When it comes to cleaning up the next massive crude oil spill, one of the best and most eco-friendly solutions for the job may be low-grade cotton from West Texas.

Seshadri Ramkumar, lead author of the study and manager of the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), said he and his colleagues found that low-micronaire cotton – one of the lowest-quality types of cotton – is most effective at picking up oil. A pound of the low-micronaire cotton can pick up more than 30 pounds of crude oil, and its natural waxiness helps to repel water.

The new study includes some of the first scientific data on unprocessed raw cotton’s use in crude oil spills, and was published in the ACS journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

“In this region, about 10 percent of the cotton grown in West Texas is low micronaire,” he said. “It doesn’t take a dye well, so it gets discounted. However, because low-micronaire cotton is less mature, it shrinks, and you are able to pack more fiber into a given area. The strength here is that the low-micronaire cotton absorbs the most crude oil. The oil is not only stuck to surface, the oil gets absorbed into the fiber.”

Ron Kendall, director emeritus at TIEHH and special assistant to the president, said the Deepwater Horizon disaster emphasized the need for better ways of cleaning up oil spills.

“One of the things we realized from Deepwater Horizon is we didn’t have the best tools for cleanup, and the technology wasn’t right for the booms,” Kendall said. “This discovery that low-micronaire cotton, which is the least valuable cotton, can absorb as much crude oil as it does is a breakthrough discovery. It gives us an excellent tool for cleanup of shorelines, animals and ecologically sensitive areas as well as a new technology for booms that can stop oil sheen moving into wetlands. And it’s biodegradable. This is just another added bonus use for low-end West Texas cotton. Now, farmers have a new use for low-end cotton in a very significant way for oil spill cleanup. It’s a major discovery from scientific and economic standpoints.”

Scientists have done extensive studies on fibers such as barley straw, kapok, polypropylene wool, Ramkumar said. However, big gaps existed in knowledge about their basic crude oil-uptake mechanisms and no data existed on unprocessed raw cotton. His team decided to fill those gaps with research on the oil sorption properties of low-micronaire cotton.

The cotton fibers take up oil in multiple ways, including both absorption and adsorption in which oil sticks to the outer surface of the cotton fiber.

“Our interest was to see how raw cotton straight from the bale picks up the crude oil as well as determining the governing mechanism behind picking up the crude oil,” he said. “We show through sophisticated testing that low-micronaire cotton is much finer and can pick up more crude oil. And crude oil is very different from refined motor oil. It’s very dense and releases toxic vapors. It’s not as easy to get picked up. In contrast to synthetic sorbents, raw cotton with its high crude oil sorption capacity and positive environmental footprint make it an ecologically friendly sorbent for oil spill cleanups.”

Laboratory work using crude oil was performed by graduate student Vinitkumar Singh. Both Cotton Incorporated and The CH Foundation contributed funds to this research.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,400+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Bioreactors Ready for the Big Time
Bioreactors are passive filtration systems that can reduce nitrate losses from farm fields.
Microbial Biosensor Designed To Evaluate Water Toxicity
UAB researchers develop new paper-based biological tool.
Coding and Computers Help Spot Methane, Explosives
Coded apertures improve and shrink mass spectrometers for field use.
Role Of Ancestry In Soil Communities Of Bacteria Revealed
Northern Arizona University researchers used quantitative stable isotope probing to measure bacterial activity in intact soil communities.
Environmental Cleanup Tech Rids Oil from Water
A new technology that is easy to manufacture and uses commercially available materials makes it possible to continuously remove oils and other pollutants from water, representing a potential tool for environmental cleanup.
Fracking's Impact on Drinking Water Sources
A case study of a small Wyoming town reveals that practices common in the fracking industry may have widespread impacts on drinking water resources.
Coral-on-a-Chip Cracks Coral Mysteries
Growing corals in the lab reveals their complex lives.
Waste Water Reveals Drug Secrets
Methamphetamine residue found in the wastewater of a Queensland city has multiplied five times since 2009.
Air Pollution Linked to Higher Risk of Preterm Birth
Researchers at NIH have found early exposure of air pollution may affect pregnancy outcomes.
MIT Study: Carbon Tax Needed to Cut Fossil Fuel Consumption
Researchers at MIT have suggested that the technology-driven cost reductions in fossil fuels will lead the world to continue using all the oil, gas, and coal, unless governments pass new taxes on carbon emissions.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,400+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!