Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022 - 43

this recognition there comes due
responsibility, including how to
dispose of them.
Typically, personal protective
equipment (PPE) is made using
synthetic nonwovens, which are
not biodegradable, as are cellulosic
products. A genuine concern-and a
valid research question for the textile
community-concerns the costeffective
disposal of medical textile
wastes. This challenge, as well, leads to
new opportunities for pursuing more
sustainable functional textiles.
In the case of some viruses, research
has shown that, compared to synthetic
materials and metals, cellulosics
and paper-based products tend to
destabilize them quickly. Information
about the medical and environmental
benefits of cellulosic materials could
be significant in developing nextgeneration
medical PPE.
Recent advances
In the functional textile sector,
incremental developments have
focused on using sustainable materials
to improve the earth-friendly nature
of advanced products, which have
generally been synthetic.
Aruppukkottai, India-based
Jayalakshmi Textiles, a cotton
spinning mill, has recently developed
a 100% cotton-based oil absorbant.
Years of its expertise in cotton
and cotton processing enabled the
company to diversify into a functional
sustainable product.
A new cellulose acetate fiber from
the multinational Eastman Chemical
Co. can be thermally bonded. A
disruptive development, Vestera
may lead to extrudable material for
developing PPE. Currently, the PPE
market is dominated by polypropylenebased
spunbond and meltblown
products, which are not easily
biodegradable. Vestera is a potential
alternative to synthetic material in
medical and industrial applications.
Unconventional fibers, such as those
derived from bananas, and bast fibers
such as hemp, are getting attention in
developing home textiles and industrial
products. Research conducted in Prof.
Govindan Ramakrishnan's laboratory
at Coimbatore-based Kumaraguru
College of Technology focuses on
exploiting exotic fibers with other
natural fibers, including organic
cotton, to develop a variety of home
textiles, such as house mats popularly
known in India as, " jamakkalam. "
There is also a growing interest
in bast fibers like hemp as a green
building material, but it has yet to catch
significant momentum. The woody
core of hemp called " hurd " can be
used as a building material, says Calvin
Trostle, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife
Extension Service agronomist, Lubbock,
and statewide hemp specialist for the
agency. " Hurd mixed with lime and
water is called 'hempcrete,' and it is
fireproof, " Trostle adds.
Crisis situations, whether it's the
pandemic or a threat to international
security, brings into sharp focus the
need for innovation, particularly in
personal protection. Innovation must
play an important role in growing the
sustainable, functional textiles sector.
" We need to be clever and invest
in tools and innovations that benefit
both profitability and sustainability, "
says Hake.
The textiles sector has a place in
the innovation space in developing
products for a wide range of market
areas, from industrial infrastructure to
defense, to medical products-all using
sustainable processes and products.
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar is a professor in the
Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory,
Texas Tech University, Lubbock.
SpecialtyFabricsReview.com 43
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Specialty Fabrics Review July 2022

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