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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

TIEHH Unveils New Nonwovens And Advanced Materials Lab

The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Lubbock, Texas-based Texas Tech University has opened a 4,000-square-foot fabric laboratory to house research and development of nonwovens-based products for military and civilian use. Launched on April 6, the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory features an air-conditioning and humidification system, contoured needlezone needlepunching technology and thermalbonding capabilities.

"We are exclusive in the way we're set up here with the unique needlepunch nonwoven technology and access to cotton," said TIEHH Director Ron Kendall. "This technology has been used successfully to develop products such as our nonwoven decontamination wipe, Fibertect™. The need for decontamination wipes, such as the kind we've created here at TIEHH, were a top priority for the Department of Defense. Years ago, we began the research, developed a product and met a top national security issue. Now we're going to continue that research with this laboratory."

Fibertect technology, developed by TIEHH associate professor and lab manager Seshadri Ramkumar, can be used to create products using a range of fibers to suit various requirements and uses. In a recent evaluation of several decontamination products, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory tested a Fibertect wipe featuring an activated carbon core sandwiched between a layer of absorbent polyester and one of absorbent cellulose. When tested with mustard gas and other toxic chemicals, results revealed Fibertect out-performed 30 other decontamination products, including those materials currently used in military kits.

"One of the main focuses of this lab will be used to develop new products from cotton and wool, such as thermal and acoustic insulation pads, and automotive and defense textiles," Ramkumar said. "Our aim is to find value-added applications for products made of cotton grown on the High Plains."

May/June 2009