Research conducted at the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Techs' Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) shows that low-grade cotton is highly effective at absorbing crude oil spills.

The study, published in the most recent issue of the American Chemical Society journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, reveals that one pound of low-micronaire cotton can absorb more than 30 pounds of dense crude oil.

In addition, the natural waxiness of raw, unprocessed cotton fiber keeps water out, making cotton an efficient and effective material for addressing ocean-based oil spills.

The study was supported in part by Cotton Incorporated.

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The new study includes some of the first scientific data on unprocessed cotton’s use as a crude oil sorbent. Seshadri Ramkumar, lead author of the study and manager of the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech’s TIEHH said he and his colleagues found that low-micronaire cotton — one of the lowest-quality types of cotton — is highly effective at picking up oil.