Chemical Countermeasures

And Advanced Materials Laboratory

  • September, 2015

    Sept. 2

    Sept. 7

    Sept. 23

    Sept. 24

    Bayer CropScience Invests in Seed Innovation Center

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, September 2, 2015)—Today, Bayer CropScience opened a new Seed Innovation Center in the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock. The innovation center will host Bayer’s global cotton business, state-of-the-art research laboratories and green house to support research in cotton, soybean and wheat.


    Bayer CropScience is world’s number one cotton seed producer. It invests US$ one billion in crop science R & D. Ten percent of its gross sales goes back into research. The 100,000 square- foot innovation complex costed about US $16 million and will have about 100 employees.


    The greenhouse can hold 30,000 mid-size cotton plants and 7,500 full size soybean plants. The Seed innovation Center has growth rooms for plant cells and state-of-the-art molecular biology laboratories.


    According to Adrian Percy, Global Head of R&D, Bayer CropScience, the center will focus on improvements in cotton varieties, introducing new traits and improve other aspects like herbicide tolerance, etc.


    The new innovation center is a good showcase for ongoing collaboration between Bayer and Texas Tech University, said, Texas Tech alumnus Mike Gilbert, Global Head, Breeding and Trait Development at Bayer CropScience. The collaboration has been ongoing for over 15 years with Bayer beginning its cotton seed business in Lubbock, Texas in 1998 with just three employees. Today, Lubbock is the global headquarters for Bayer’s cotton seed business.


    Today’s opening ceremony in Lubbock attracted a large gathering that included policy makers, leaders in the Lubbock community, cotton researchers and key cotton industry leaders like cotton producer Dale Swinburn of Tulia, TX, Kater Hake, Vice-President Agriculture Research at Cotton Incorporated, Cary, NC and Steve Verett, Executive Vice-President for the Lubbock based Plains Cotton Growers.


    FiberMax and Stoneville cotton seeds are the two well- known brands of Bayer CropScience.

    Novel Insecticide Coating Technique Developed

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, September 7, 2015)-----A team of European and African researchers has developed an efficient insecticide coating technique for bed nets that provides higher mortality for vectors like mosquitoes.


    A process that uses electrostatic charge to enable the binding of variety of insecticides such as pyrethroids and nonpyrethroids on a variety of substrates like nets and blankets has been developed. The charge remains long standing and helps with the binding of insecticides without any additional carrier.


    Results showed that pyrethroid resistant mosquito strains Anopheles from Africa had greater mortality rate for electrostatic bonded insecticide nets compared to standard deltamethrin treated nets. The electrostatic treated nets gave higher efficiency at reduced insecticide concentration and reduced exposure time compared to standard insecticide coated nets.


    Electrostatic coated insect repellent net is one more addition to the number of electrostatic textile products such as cleaning wipes and filters. Mosquito repellent nets and blankets are important inventory for defense, medical and first-aid personnel who serve in war theaters, conflict zones and tropical climates.


    The work titled, “Electrostatic coating enhances bioavailability of insecticides and breaks pyrethroid resistance in mosquitoes,” has appeared in a recent issue of the United States’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



    Mandatory Usage of Technical Textiles Likely in India

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, September 23, 2015)-----Indian government is likely to mandate the use of technical textiles such as geotextiles in certain sectors such as building, railways and defense.


    As a way of stimulating the use of technical textiles and promote, “Make in India,” campaign, such efforts are needed said, Mrs. Kiran Soni Gupta, India’s Textile Commissioner yesterday while inaugurating “Geotextiles,” seminar organized by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi.


    According to PHD Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Gupta stated that India needs imports substitution in technical textiles from countries such as China and Italy.


    India also wants to support start-ups in technical textiles through its national mission on technical textiles. Additionally, capital subsidy increase for textile machines and expansion of interest subsidy for technical textiles projects are on the table as there is tremendous interest in technical textiles sector from many states such as Rajasthan, Tamilnadu and Maharashtra.


    Anil Khaitan, chairman, industry affairs committee of the PHD Chamber announced that the chamber will create startup cells to support entrepreneurs and technical textiles field is perfectly suited for this effort.


    Indian government expects the field will grow by 20% on annual basis.

    US-India Technical Textiles Bilateral Collaboration Announced

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, September 24, 2015)-----Bilateral collaboration and technical exchanges between United States and India in technical textiles are planned as part United States and India strategic and commercial cooperation.


    As part of the first United States-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, held on September 22nd, in Washington DC, both countries agreed to cooperate in the field of technical textiles among many other initiatives.


    Washington DC is bustling this week with international leaders with the visits of Pope Francis, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the key delegation from India for the commercial dialogue.


    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker welcomed India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman for the first U.S.-India commercial dialogue held on 22nd September in Washington DC. During this summit, strategic initiatives between the two countries in the field of technical textiles were agreed.


    1) United States and India will help with exchanges between U.S. academia and Centers of Excellence in technical textiles in India. Indian government has established eight centers for growing the field of technical textiles.


    2) The two countries will participate in trade expositions related to technical textiles such as Technotex expo sponsored by Government of India.


    3) Both countries will collaborate in standards development for technical textiles products and


    4) Address barriers towards technical textile exports between the two countries.


    According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, there are over 2 million annual visits between the two countries that showcase strong bilateral cooperation.


    Personally, this scribe has been engaged in many bilateral initiatives between India and the United States for over a decade in the field of nonwovens and technical textiles and has provided international platforms at different places in India for the industry and academia by organizing the international conference, “Advances in Textiles, Nonwovens and Technical Textiles (ATNT).” Industry associations such INDA, TAPPI-NET Division and IFAI have supported the events and have helped with awareness creation and promotion of technical textiles in India.



  • August, 2015

    Aug. 11

    Aug. 20

    Aug. 25

    Aug. 27

    Aug. 28

    Chinese Import Decline Hits the Indian Spinning Sector

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, August 10, 2015)—Cotton spinning sector in India has been hard hit by declining yarn exports.


    Cotton spinning mills in northern India are planning to shut down one day a week. According to Chandigarh based Northern India Textile Mills’ Association (NITMA) that has 98 member mills that includes leading names such as Vardhaman and Trident, etc., excess spinning capacity and decline in exports this fiscal year have resulted in poor cash flow and excessive stocks. In addition to these fiscal matters, textile policies in some southern states and those of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are hitting the northern spinning mills hard stated, Mr. Sharad Jaipuria, President of NITMA.


    Mr. H. S. Cheema, Senior Vice President of NITMA stated that the spinning sector is under crisis and plans like shutting the production one day in a week are under serious consideration.


    In a telephone conversation with this scribe today, Mr. G. Balasubramanian, Secretary General of NITMA stated India has about 10% excess spinning capacity. According to him, “yarn exports have fallen by about 20% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year.” More importantly, imports by China have declined by about 30-40% this year creating a greater blow to the Indian spinning industry.



    Nanocellulose Offers Immense Scope for Advanced Composites

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, August 20, 2015)---Herty Advanced Materials Development Center (HAMDC) at Georgia Southern University recently opened Advanced Chemical Processing facility that can help with the development of high performance and bio-based materials like nanocrystalline cellulose.


    According to a release from Herty, the new center will be able to process materials ranging from minerals to polymers that have many advanced applications in automotive and aerospace industries.


    Dr. Omar Ali, Director BioProducts at Herty stated, “nanocellulose has strength similar to Kevlar and is a promising biomaterial for advanced composite applications in the automotive and aerospace sectors.


    The new facility has 500 L reactor that can be used for mixing, can undertake multicomponent reactions and has superior drying capability. The new reactor offers a powerful platform for giving the U.S. industry innovative materials from plastics to specialty coating, stated Walter Chappas, Herty’s advanced materials group director.


    Nanocellulose is strong, renewable raw material that can be used to develop advanced composites. In recent years, there is a growing interest in this material and organizations such as the Technological Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) is providing many platforms to support the growth of the material.


    According to FP Innovations, by 2020, the North American market for nanocellulose will be about US$250 million.



    First Estimate of New Season Indian Cotton Crop Released

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, August 25, 2015)---Indian cotton crop for the new season (2015-16) beginning this October is estimated to be 38 million bales of 170 kilograms each.


    The first estimate was announced yesterday by Mumbai based Cotton Association of India (CAI). The new season’s crop will be less than this year’s estimate by 275, 000 bales (170 Kgs. each). Acreage is expected to be lower, while higher yield is expected.


    According to CAI, the opening stock will be about 7.9 million bales, which will be higher than this year’s opening stock.


    Total domestic consumption is expected to increase by 5 million bales. Consumption in organized mill sector will be about 28.5 million bales as against 27.8 million bales, this year.


    In recent days, cotton price is showing an upward trend in India. With the latest estimate showing a slight decline in production and projected surplus of about 14.57 million bales in the new season (October 15-September 16), it will be interesting to see how the market reacts.


    One Indian cotton bale weighs 170 kilograms.

    Bulletproof Clothing from Corn

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, August 27, 2015)—Cornstarch solution can be a potential candidate for next-generation bulletproof clothing and impact materials.


    Research in Professor Eric Brown’s laboratory at Yale University has shown a unique property of cornstarch-water mixture that responds to impacts well. Upon impact, it cracks resembling solids and then it returns to fluid state. This phenomenon is understood as “shear thickening.”


    Shear thickening fluids have been researched over a number of years for its impact resistance properties. However, Yale group is using a biomaterial and has observed this phenomenon.


    Eric Brown of the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Yale, has summed up the material’s advantage as “Crack a helmet; you have to get a new one. But it was to be made from self-healing material?”


    The research is yet to fully explain how upon impact, the material behaves like a solid and quickly returns to the fluid state. The answer hopefully will lead to the development of environmentally friendly high impact resistant materials such as bulletproof vests.



    Wearable Electronic Textiles Gets Boost from the US Department of Defense

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, August 28, 2015)--Smart and wearable textiles sector will get a boost with the U.S. Department of Defense funding.


    Today, U. S. Secretary of Defense, Ash carter announced the creation of National Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Hybrid Electronics.


    According to U. S. DoD, “FlexTech Alliance,” a consortium of 96 companies, 41 universities, 14 state and local organizations, 11 laboratories and non-profit organizations will establish the institute with huge funding from the U.S. Department of Defense.


    The United States’ Defense will provide US $75 million for the institute, which will be established in the Silicon Valley. In addition to the government’s commitment, private and public sector partners are contributing huge dollars, which has exceeded or matched the government’s support, according to Secretary Carter.


    According to Secretary Carter, “our troops will be able to lighten their loads with sensors and electronic gear embedded in their clothing.” Many different applications involving hybrid electronic technologies include intelligent bandages and smart textiles.


    This innovation institute is part of President Obama’s program to create a number of manufacturing innovation institutes to boost the manufacturing sector in the United States.



  • July, 2015

    July 2

    July 8

    Electrospinning of Viruses

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Bengaluru, India, July 2, 2015)---Electrospun viruses may be biosensors of the future.


    University of California-Riverside researchers Elaine Haberer and Nosang Myung have given new twist to the electrospinning technique. Recent developments in this technology help in developing smoother, uniform fibers at faster and cheaper rates. Electrospun webs can serve as efficient cavities for an optical phenomenon known as, “whispering gallery.” This phenomenon is useful for detecting signals efficiently.

    In addition to creating electrospun cavities, the researchers incorporate different viruses while electrospinning. According to Haberer, viruses are proteins so they are stable than enzymes and can pack more biosensor molecules.”


    Electrospun fibers with viruses serve as better cavities for the whispering galley phenomenon to happen and function as biosensors.

    Converting Sector of the Technical Textiles Industry is Needed in India

    By Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University


    (Bengaluru, India, July 8, 2015)—Value-addition, product diversification and marketing support are desperately needed for growing technical textiles in India.


    The Indian technical textiles sector that includes nonwovens needs focus and should diversify stated industrialists who attended the two day nonwovens training program of the United States based Association of the Nonwovens Fabrics Industry (INDA) coordinated by Tecnitex Nonwovens, Pvt. Ltd., in The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai, India. INDA’s program tutored by this scribe was held on July 6-7 in Mumbai.


    Participants from leading companies such as Kimberly Clark, Welspun, Johnson and Johnson attended the workshop and participated in interesting discussions to spearhead the growth of the industry.


    Currently, the spunbond nonwoven sector is concentrated on packtech and is not performing well in India. According to a source, a few years back, the industrialized state of Gujarat had over 40 spunbond manufacturers. The sector is dominated by Chinese machines and is focused on developing 60-80 GSM fabrics catering to the packaging sector. With fierce competition, the need for new products and new market, some spunbond manufacturers have shut down.


    There is an urgent need for product know-how and help with marketing support. Converting sector that can develop products that can be used by consumers is the need of the hour. Indian government should focus of custom duty issues to support


  • June, 2015

    June 28

    Carpet Waste Finds New Applications

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Bengaluru, India, June 28, 2015)---With increasing interest in green buildings, a textile waste may be a good candidate.


    University of Connecticut researchers are finding new applications for carpet wastes. Particle boards are being developed as a part of a project funded by Carpet America Recovery Effort.


    Efforts to find new uses for carpet wastes have been in existence for years now, but developing particle boards using carpet waste and biomass is a new twist according to Professor Richard Parnas of University of Connecticut, who is involved in the project.


    The research uses sisal fibers derived from agave and carpet waste, which is an economical route to develop biobased composite boards. This combination helps with getting necessary strength and stiffness that can meet American construction industry standards.


    Researchers are planning on a start-up next year in Haiti to develop about 50 million pounds of particle boards especially for European market.


    Some years back, Mumbai-India based Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology has developed particle boards from cotton stalks.

  • May, 2015

    May 12

    El Nino Weather Good for Cotton

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, May 12, 2015)—High Plains region in Texas is the beneficiary of the El Nino weather pattern, which is promising news for this year’s cotton crop.


    Justin Weaver, Meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service in Lubbock spoke recently at the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Agriculture meeting on the weather pattern for the cotton planting season this year. His talk came right after good spells of rain last Monday and Tuesday night that witnessed a downpour equal to all of rainfall of 2011 in one night. Commenting on the recent rainfall, “happy Ag folks around here” stated Weaver.


    El Nino, which is the warming of the surface water in eastern and central Pacific ocean will result in good chance of above normal precipitation this planting season and Fall this year. Rainfall, coupled with low temperature, will be beneficial for the cotton crop. According to Weaver, the probability of experiencing extreme hot summer is low unlike 2011 when there was a continuous spell of 30 days of summer with temperature above 100 degree Fahrenheit.


    Lubbock and High Plains region in the past week had witnessed over an inch of rainfall with some places reaching as high as 10 inches. Lubbock and the surrounding cotton growing areas are witnessing showers, which have made most of the High Plains to be out of drought condition. Today, only 16% of Texas is in drought situation while California is witnessing severe drought, said Weaver.


    Shawn Wade, Director of Policy Analysis and Research at Lubbock based Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., stated that this weather, which is due to El Nino will be beneficial for cotton in 2015. Since, producers have to plant in High Plains by early June, the wet weather might be a concern in some places. Commenting on this aspect Mr. Wade stated, “rains have been beneficial for many areas in high plains and hopefully it will be dried between now and the end of planting period in early June.” The rainfall is helping with the soil moisture and it is hoped by the producer community in High Plains that this year’s crop will be off to a good start, although it is too early to estimate the total crop and its quality. Depending on the crop being planted in a timely manner and having good weather condition throughout the season, Texas is expected to have more than half of planted acres in the United States. According to Shawn Wade High Plains, the largest cotton producing region in the United States, could have about one third of planted acres in the United States.


    Overall the El Nino weather pattern seems to bring positive mood to the cotton producers in the High Plains of Texas. This is a favorable situation for cotton production in the United States.

  • April, 2015

    April 22

    April 24

    April 28

    Value Addition Needed for Technical Textiles Industry

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, April 22, 2015)—Converting sector is much needed for growing the technical textiles sector.


    Mr. Sushil Kapoor, President and CEO of Technical Textiles Business at SRF Limited, India emphasized the need for value addition in technical textiles sector while speaking at the recent Technotex International conference organized by FICCI with the support from Government of India in Mumbai.


    Innovation, competitiveness, scale and collaboration are the key ingredients for the growth of the technical textiles sector. Mr. Kapoor emphasized the need for creating functionality to textiles and delivering technical textiles at correct price point.


    Stating that India’s per capita consumption is merely 2 Kgs as against 18.8 Kgs in the United States, Mr. Kapoor was optimistic that India provides huge opportunity for this sector. Giving a scorecard of the Indian technical textiles industry, he pointed out the weak links in the sector such as fabrication (converting), pilot R&D facility, standardization and delivery infrastructure.


    Fabrication or the converting sector, innovation, developing domestic industry are key towards the growth of the Indian technical textiles stated, Mr. Kapoor.


    This scribe has been insisting on the development of the converting sector in India for many years to grow the technical textiles industry, which echoed very well in the presentation made by Mr. Kapoor of SRF.


    Globally technical textiles industry is valued at US$145 billion with an annual growth of 3.6 percent.



    India Promotes Better Cotton Growing Practices

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, April 24, 2015)—Government of India is promoting good cotton growing approaches to its farmers.


    India through its National Food Security Mission (NSFM) is promoting the use of technology to its farmers to enhance the yield and quality in cotton growing states. Measures such as financial and technical assistance are provided for demonstration of high density planting, cultivation of Extra Long Staple and Desi cotton, Insecticides Resistance Management and Online Pest Monitoring. Government of India implements this program through central research institutes and state agricultural universities.


    In the largest cotton growing state Gujarat, efforts are underway to improve the quality of seeds and enhance cotton production with the involvement of leading universities in the state such as Navasari and Junagarh Agricultural Universities.


    In 2014-15, Government of India has allotted US$1.89 million for the program according to the Minister of State for Agriculture, India.



    India Cotton Exports Down From Last Year

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, April 28, 2015)—Current cotton exports from India are lagging compared to last year.


    According to a recent statement from Mumbai based Cotton Association of India, the export demand for Indian cotton is limited at this point.


    In a telephone conversation this morning from Mumbai, a source associated with trading mentioned that for the period covering October 2014- March 2015, India exported 3.7 million bales (170 Kgs). But during the same timeframe in the last season (October 2013-March 2014), India had exported around 8.5 million bales. Comparing the two years, it is evident that there is a decline of about 50% in cotton export. In addition to the China factor, the source said, the Indian cotton prices are not competitive enough in the international market, making Indian exports less attractive.


    While the export market is not presenting a pretty picture, the domestic market is picking up with cotton prices having an upward trend. According to Aruppukottai-South India based cotton spinning mill with 65,000 spindles, the price of cotton is steadily increasing and it is expected to reach a stable and nominal price soon. In the case of MCU-5 cotton variety, which goes towards spinning medium to fine count range yarns, within one week, there has been significant increase of Rs.1,500 (approx.US$ 23.78) for one candy (356 Kgs). In speaking with the scribe, this source mentioned that it would be beneficial to both farmers and the spinners if the price for this cotton remains stable at Rs.40,000 (approx.US$ 634.31) per candy.


    The current cotton arrivals in India are basically 3rd and 4th picking, and hence they are not high quality as compared to the arrivals in December and January. Globally, there is a huge demand for quality cotton. Compared to the 1st quarter, yarn demand is picking up due to export demand for weavers and knitters in India. Both the farmers and spinners are expecting the cotton price to firm up soon so as to reach a win-win situation.


    The conversion rate used is 1 US Dollar = 63.06 Indian Rupees.

  • March, 2015

    March 1

    March 6

    March 18

    March 19

    March 20

    Green Blue Jeans Development

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, March 1, 2015)—A University of California-Berkeley professor is using molecular biology to synthesize an important dye used to color denim.


    Professor John Dueber, Department of Bioengineering at Berkeley is understanding the natural pathway in indigo plants and trying to mimic the dye synthesis in the laboratory. In nature, a precursor called “indican” which results in the dye is covered by a sugar coating. When the sugar coating is broken, the coloration happens.


    According to Berkeley’s Bakar Fellows feature, Professor Dueber’s laboratory has identified the enzyme that is responsible for the sugar coating in indigo plants. The researchers plan to synthesis the dye using bacteria. By inserting the gene that is responsible for the sugar coat enzyme and using other additional genes, the indigo precursor can be synthesized without using synthetic precursors. Currently used synthetic raw materials are toxic to aquatic systems and result in polluting the environment.


    The research is in very early stages and is supported by a five year grant from Bakar Fellowship program.


    Blue jeans has been with us for over 140 years and co-invented by Levis Strauss and Jacob Davis in 1873.

    Globally, the denim industry is valued at US$ 60 billion. According to Cotton Incorporated, on average, each U.S. consumer owns seven pairs of jeans.

    Biopolymer Development Recognized

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, March 06, 2014)— DuPont™ Industrial Biosciences was recognized for its Sorona® biopolymer development with the 2015 Breakthrough Bio-Based Technology Platform award in Amsterdam recently.


    According to DuPont™, Sorona® fiber has helped the textiles industry in particular, carpet sector by making carpet stain resistant and softer. Sorona® biopolymer contains 37% of renewable plant ingredients and uses 30% less energy and releases less amount of greenhouse gases compared to nylon 6, stated DuPont™ in a recent news release.


    In 2014, DuPont™ established a partnership with India based Vipul Sarees. Vipul makes sarees like chiffon and georgette that have luster and feel like silk. This partnership has enabled consumers to have cost effective sarees that are comparable with costly silk sarees. According to DuPont™, Sorana® fiber showcases sustainability through the entire valuable chain with the use of renewable monomers, energy savings in the processing by having low dyeing temperatures and easy care aspects during usage.


    DuPont™ received the award at the 10th annual World Bio Markets Conference held recently in Amsterdam.



    Smart Bandage to Detect Bedsores

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, March 18, 2015)— A team of scientists from the Berkeley and San Francisco campuses of University of California have devised smart bandages that can detect bedsores early on.


    A group of Engineering Professors from the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and Bioengineering from Berkeley has used flexible electronic approach to device smart bandages that can detect bedsores even before it could be noticed by humans. As the cells die, electrical changes occur, which are detected by the smart bandage. Thin plastic based wearable electronic bandages were tested on the skin of rats, which were able to detect the changes as the skin cells die, which is an indicator of the initiation of bedsore ulcers.


    According to University of Berkeley, gold electrodes were printed on to the bandage material, which utilizes impedance spectroscopy to detect cell damages. Dr. Michael Harrison, Professor of Surgery at University of California-San Francisco, a co-investigator of the work stated that the device looks for electrical properties of the cells and evaluates the damage.


    According to the research published recently in Nature Communications, the cell membrane is impermeable to electric charges when it is live and in good condition. As the cell starts to die, the electrical signals penetrate through them and functions like a resistor. This concept forms the basis of the smart bandage development.


    The smart bandage is now entering a phase of clinical trials. The United States’ National Science Foundation funded the study.

    United States to Invest in Technical Textiles

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, March 19, 2015)—High performance fibers and textile manufacturing will receive a boost in the United States.

    Yesterday, President Obama launched a competition for the creation of  “New Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles-Manufacturing Innovation Institute”. This new initiative, which will result in the creation of the ninth manufacturing innovation institute, is sponsored by the US Department of Defense.


    According to The White House, this Revolutionary Fibers Institute will be part of the network of manufacturing innovation and will provide a bridge between industries, academia and R&D institutions in the field of high performance textiles.


    Public private partnership model will be followed for the creation of the Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles Manufacturing Institute with the government providing US$ 75 million. The remaining US$ 75 million will come from private industries in the form of cash and kind contributions. According to The White House, the institute will focus on fibers and fabrics that fit into the field of technical textiles such as protective textiles, wound care, medical textiles, etc.


    According to yesterday’s statement from The White House, currently the US textile industry is adding jobs for the first time in nearly two decades with 45% increase in textile exports since 2009.


    A formal notice of intent for this program has been released by the US Department of Defense.



    Quality is Key for the US Cotton Industry

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, March 20, 2015)—United States cotton producers are focusing their efforts to deliver quality cotton this year.


    Today, being the official start of spring in the United States, a group of cotton producers, researchers, extension specialists, policy staff, industry personnel and bankers gathered in the Lubbock office of Plains Cotton Growers (PCG) to discuss the state of the cotton industry.


    Discussions centered around planting intentions, weather, cost of production and market situation. As cotton is now trading in the 60-cent range, there is going to be a shrinkage in cotton acreage. However, the magnitude of reduction in acreage will not be clear for sometime now. The United States Department of Agriculture will release the prospective plantings report at the end of this month. But, the actual scenario of cotton acres on the Texas High Plains will not be clear until May.  Countries in the southern hemisphere such as Brazil and Australia are also seeing their cotton acres reduced. This situation could help to offset the existing surplus stock situation.


    The group at the PCG meeting felt strongly about delivering good quality cotton. Quality cotton is key for securing good price and market. “Pounds pay the bills, but quality makes the money,” stated one merchant in today’s meeting.


    The U.S. cotton industry over the years has invested in research and education programs to deliver quality cotton with increased length and strength and less contamination. Producers emphasized the need to produce quality cotton, which was well supported by the merchants who participated in today’s meeting. From value point of view, longer cotton can provide a price differential of 10-12 cents per pound.


    This year, with existing surplus stocks, lower demand for textiles and competition from synthetic fiber, the U.S. cotton producers are focusing their efforts on delivering quality cotton.



  • February, 2015

    Feb. 6

    Feb. 13

    Feb. 24

    Feb. 25

    Feb. 26

    Materials Research Gets Boost in the United Kingdom

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, February 6, 2014)— The United Kingdom’s government is investing nearly quarter of a billion pound for materials research and innovation.


    With academic and industrial partners, Sir Henry Royce institute for Materials Research and Innovation is being established with the funding of 235 million pounds in the University of Manchester. This institute will have satellite centers at other leading Universities in England such as Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford, Sheffield and Imperial College.


    According to the statement from the University of Manchester, this investment from the British government is the largest single funding in its history.  Some of the objectives of this massive investment in materials research are to enhance the growth of UK’s manufacturing sector, undertake research in soft, hard and functional materials.


    A significant effort will be to allow industry to work closely with academia. Already the UK government has established National Graphene Institute (NGI) with the funding of about 61 million pound in the University of Manchester to take the wonder material graphene into the next step. NGI building is expected to be finished and occupied in earlier part of 2015.




    Revolutionary TTU cotton product could protect troops, clean up oil spills

    Posted: Feb 13, 2015 6:57 PM CST

    By Patricia Villacin




    It starts as cotton straight from the bale, but in less than a minute, it turns into a powerful nonwoven wipe called "FiberTect."

    "[It is] fiber that protects, hence the name 'FiberTect,'" creator and Texas Tech Professor of Technical Textiles Seshadri Ramkumar said.

    Originally developed to protect the U.S. military from chemical and biological agents, Ramkumar obtained the patent for FiberTect back in 2009 and has been developing the product for the past 15 years. He said FiberTect is the product of a "mind-to-market" process called "translational research."

    "Now, the U.S. academia is geared towards more to transferring the research and the knowledge that is developed in the classrooms and the laboratories and see how you could develop products and some useful materials, which will help the society," Ramkumar said. "We did this in a way where we took a product and material that is of strategic importance, economic importance for which Texas Tech is worldly known - cotton."

    FiberTect is one of the first Texas Tech products to be commercialized. Ramkumar described it as "platform technology" that can decontaminate everything from small nooks to military equipment and is porous enough to tackle volatile oil spills and toxic vapors, attracting influential customers including the U.S. Department of Defense.

    "It can have applications in multiple industries such as oil, and gas, utility, automobile - you name it," Ramkumar said.

    The dry absorbent is based on a "sandwich" concept.

    "You put those two cotton layers in between this charcoal, which will hold the vapors, and the cotton will take away the liquid," Ramkumar said. "It attacks both liquid and vapor."

    Ramkumar's lab is located in the Reese Technology Center, but FiberTect is manufactured in Hobbs Bonded Fibers in Waco. Ramkumar says making FiberTect does not involve any chemicals. It is achieved through a mechanical process called needlepunching.

    "The needlepunching is very useful for this because it's highly productive, so the cost of manufacturing is less," Ramkumar said. "[It] basically helps bond one layer into the middle layer."

    While the Ramkumar said the road to generate profit for Texas Tech is still a long one, he has high hopes for the future of FiberTect.

    Australian Carbon Fiber Research Gets a Boost

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, February 24, 2014)— Collaboration between Deakin University and DowAksa will strengthen Australian carbon fiber industry.


    Deakin University has a carbon research center with an investment of about 34 million Australian dollars. The new partnership with DowAksa will enable collaborative research and professional exchange opportunities between Deakin and DowAksa, according to Deakin University. The new partnership is termed as “Carbon Nexus.”


    According to Professor Jane den Hollander, Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University, the partnership will show how University can play important role in supporting local economy and develop new economic opportunities. The pilot plant at the research center will utilize carbon fibers from DowAksa in developing new projects and products.


    According to Derek Buckmaster, Director of Carbon Nexus, carbon fiber research center is working with Carbon Revolution, the first commercial maker of single piece carbon fiber automobile wheels.


    According to Deakin University, based on final negotiations between Carbon Nexus consortium and US Department of Energy, a new institute called the Institute for Advanced Composites Materials Innovation (IACMI) is being planned with an expected investment of 250 million US dollars. The new institute is hoped to provide collaboration and exchange opportunities between Australian and American academia and carbon fiber sector.

    Next Phase of Nonwovens Industry

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, February 25, 2014)— Economical and ecological improvements will drive the next phase of the nonwovens sector.


    Nonwoven industry is poised for a healthy growth, stated Pierre Conrath, Sustainability and Public Affairs Director at Brussels based European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (edana).


    Speakers at today’s webinar organized by the Nonwoven Industry magazine with the support of edana, emphasized the need for energy savings, reduction in waste and environmental sustainability for the growth of the nonwovens sector. Dr-Ing Andreas Rosner of Reicofil machinery stated that savings in energy will be an important factor for the industry. Mr. Rosner explained Reicofil’s Blue Extrusion process, which the company is advocating for cost savings. According to Reicofil, the leading spunmelt machinery manufacturer, some important attributes such as energy efficiency, reducing environmental impacts, use of ecofriendly materials and developing light weight nonwovens are the key drivers in the nonwoven industry towards economic and environmental sustainability. Rosner remarked that machinery improvements like down-gauging have led to 30% reduction in the weight of top sheet nonwovens, which results in resin savings. Additional developments such as improved secondary extruders have enabled the use of resin waste, which could save about 10% of resin. Rosner pointed out that, improvements in spunmelt machinery and process could lead to energy savings up to 16 percent.


    Pierre Conrath of edana also emphasized the importance of energy efficiency and reduction in the use of raw materials for developing nonwoven products. He stated that, the industry has worked diligently to reduce the weight of the baby diaper sold in Europe by 50% in the past 25 years. Today, the average weight of the diaper in EU is just 33 grams as against 65 grams in 1987.


    Commenting on the status of the industry Mr. Conrath stated that, the trend is to reduce the weight of the material and increase the surface area of the material. In the recent past, the nonwoven industry in greater Europe has had an annual growth of 3.8% in weight, while in terms of surface area it grew by 5.7 percent. More importantly, according to Pierre Conrath, there is a greater demand for the single use nonwoven industry to be highly sustainable, as it involves huge volume.


    In a question on the weight of the material that is feasible these days with high-end spunmelt machinery, Rosner stated that 10 GSM is possible.


    Edana will be officially releasing its fourth sustainability report tomorrow.



    AATCC to Offer Technical Textiles Tutorial

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, February 26, 2014)—American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) will offer its first tutorial on technical textiles.


    AATCC will provide tutorial on the emerging field of technical textiles in the forthcoming International Conference to be held this March in Savannah, Georgia. The tutorial “Technical Textiles 101” will be held in the afternoon on March 24th.


    Technical textile is a growth area even in developed economies and its annual growth rate normally stands above the GDP growth rate. AATCC is providing the timely tutorial to educate the beginners as well as those in the field on the technical aspects of different forms of technical textiles, which range from fiber to finished goods.


    Important areas that will be covered include nanotechnology, filters, nonwovens, functional finishes, to name a few. In general, the participants will understand the vast scope offered by this emerging textiles sector.


    AATCC has been providing such tutorials during its annual conferences as a part of education and outreach to develop the textile industry. In 2013, the tutorial focused on fundamentals of preparation, dyeing and printing and in 2014, the tutorial focused on color choice: an optimization of dye selection and color consistency, colorfastness, color match and cost requirements and best practices for visual and instrumental color.


    The annual conference this year will be held in The Hilton DeSoto from March 24 – 26 in Savannah, Georgia.

    The Technical Textiles tutorial will be held form 2 to 5.15 pm on Tuesday, March 24. Details of the Technical Textiles tutorial can be obtained from

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    India on a Mission to Surpass China on Cotton Production

    by: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Aruppukottai, India, January 4, 2015)--India has the largest cotton acreage, which is about 37% of world's cotton acreage.


    Delivering the message recently at the 92nd annual meeting of the Cotton Association of India (CAI), Dhiren Sheth, President of CAI stated, “India's cotton production has grown tremendously since 2001-02 and is estimated to be 40.2 million bales (170 Kgs each) in 2014-15. It was just 15.8 million bales in 2001-02.”


    Additionally, India's cotton consumption is estimated to be 30.6 million bales of 170 Kgs each.


    Mr. Sheth in speaking on the growth in production stated that the exponential growth has been possible due to the large scale cultivation of GM cotton, government support and policies to farmers to obtain supportive prices and the encouragement to adopt new agricultural techniques.


    With an estimated 40.2 million bales, India is on the verge to surpass China in cotton production soon.

    India's First Six Beam Spunmelt Nonwoven Line Comes Online

    by: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Aruppukottai, India, January 9, 2015)--Trials have begun on India's first six beam spunmelt nonwoven line in Nasik, India.


    Global Nonwovens' state-of-the-art clean room production facility that has Reicofil 4S line will begin commercial production this February.


    4.2 meters wide six beam line will have an annual production of 18,000 tons and will cater to global hygiene market. The line is capable of producing spunmelt fabrics with weight ranging from 9 to 40 GSM. The average basis weight of the plant will be 15 GSM. There will be very minimal human handling of nonwoven rollgoods during the entire production, with auto dosing and robotic control to meet highest standards for hygiene market according to a reliable source that has first information of the project.


    Reicofil 4S technology can make fabrics with weight less than 4GSM, a unique feature. The nonwoven plant is situated in Igatpuri taluk in Maharashtra State, India.



    Ford’s investment in India to aid nonwoven usage

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, January 23, 2015)- Global automobile giant Ford will invest in a new integrated manufacturing facility in Sanand, India.


    Ford will invest one billion US dollars to set up an integrated manufacturing facility, which will produce latest models by June 2015. With the investment of one billion dollars, Ford’s total investment in India will be about two billion US dollars.


    Sanand’s facility will be on a 450-acre campus. The plant will have an annual capacity of 240,000 automobile units. In addition to manufacturing automobiles, the plant will also produce engines with an annual capacity of 270,000.


    On an average about 40 pounds of nonwoven and technical textiles are used in modern automobiles, which will enable additional nonwoven capacity utilization in India.

    Indian Technical Textile Sector is a Sunrise Sector

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, January 26, 2014)—Government of India, Ministry of Textiles is promoting the advanced textiles sector to be a sunshine sector.

    In the recently held 7th International “Vibrant Gujarat Summit” at Ahmedabad, Ministry of Textiles of India has made enormous outreach efforts to promote this sector. According to the material released in Vibrant Gujarat Summit, the Indian technical textiles market is expected to reach US$25.89 billion by 2016-17 from its current size of US$18 billion with an annual growth of about 20%.


    In the past decade, there have been many promotional efforts sponsored by the Government of India to promote this sector. This scribe has been personally involved in promotional and outreach programs supported by the Government, trade associations and the United States based Association of the Nonwoven Fabric Industry (INDA).


    For the past eight years, INDA has been delivering its nonwoven training programs in many cities in India. This effort started in January of 2007 in Mumbai. In 2008, this scribe theoretically projected the growth of the Indian technical textiles sector to be in double digit which has been vindicated by the Government’s report. The growth was projected based on GDP growth and has been detailed in the report “India: Rising Opportunities in Nonwovens and Technical Textiles.”


    Specific schemes of the Government such as the Technical Mission on Technical Textiles, Scheme for Usage of Agrotextiles in North East Region and Scheme for Usage of Geotextile for North Eastern States are providing necessary thrust towards the growth of this sector.


    Two major initiatives are needed to further the growth of this sector and should involve efforts to develop the converting sector of the technical textiles industry and building necessary resources for marketing of technical textiles product.


    Agro Mulch Needed for Improving Agricultural Productivity

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA


    (Lubbock, USA, January 27, 2015)—Technical Textiles are being promoted to enhance the productivity of agricultural sector in India.

    In speaking with this scribe recently at the SASMIRA campus in Worli, Mumbai,  Dr. S. Raman, a soil and water management specialist who has 32 years of experience in the agricultural sector in the State of Gujarat in India mentioned that in India, awareness on the use of agro mulch is picking up.


    Government of India is promoting the agro textiles sector by providing subsidy to boost the usage of agro textiles.

    According to Dr. Raman, mulching helps to conserve moisture, prevent weeds and better manage the salinity. The use of agro mulch will reduce the negative impact of salinity and enhances the nutrient availability.


    Dr. Raman stated that agro mulch goes well with drip irrigation. He further added that companies that provide imported seeds come with technology packages that include mulch and other best productivity improving practices.

    Current Indian Cotton Selling: A First Hand Look

    By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA

    (Lubbock, USA, January 29, 2014)—Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has sold 1,100 bales on the first day of auction creating international curiosity in the past two days.

    According to an official notification, CCI initiated electronic auction on January 27th to sell an initial quantity of 5,100 bales (170 Kgs each) at a price higher than the market price from its Adilabad, Warangal and Guntur offices. The initial variety to be disposed is Bunny Brahma (31mm in length), which is normally suited for fine counts.

    To capture the Indian cotton situation correctly at this point of time, this scribe spoke to a general manager of a leading 100% cotton spinning mill in South India who is in-charge of cotton procurement, via phone this morning. According to that well-informed source, who wanted to remain anonymous, the main consideration for spinners and cotton merchants is to have the price stability. The excess cotton production in India and the recent China import policy has brought enormous price instability this time, compared to the previous year.

    The move by CCI to release cotton from its stock should serve the purpose of stabilizing the cotton price, while the current market price in India is below what the CCI is selling since January 27th and its earlier procurement cost, this season. The expert is of the opinion that CCI would have initiated the initial sell, not only to generate liquidity for its additional procurement, but also to ensure higher prices to the farmers when the Indian market price is trading low.

    With regard to the cotton production, India’s production for this cotton season is estimated to be 40 million bales (170 Kgs each), which is higher than last year’s production. During the months of November’ 14 to January ‘15, 70 % of cotton crop, particularly in rain fed areas would have arrived, showing that India is on track to have bumper crop. While this is the situation with regard to production, so far China has not imported cotton from India leading to stock pilling and decline in market price in India. Last year, India exported a good quantity of its production to China.

    The decline in the market price is not favorable to both producers and spinners, which should have prompted CCI to initiate its first phase of selling for this season said the source. The MCU-5 variety (30 mm length), which is suited for fine counts was selling at a spot price of about Rs. 32,500 (US$ 529.40) per candy (356 Kgs) on January 27th, when CCI announced its auction. Subsequently, the spot price of this variety has shown some increase, and as of today in Warangal market, the price for MCU-5 is Rs. 34,000 (US$ 553.83) per candy.  Last year, the price went up as high as Rs. 48,000 (US$ 781.88) per candy.
Furthermore, the current cotton price is not suitable for spinners as it leads to lower yarn prices, while the cost of labor and power is increasing in India. Currently, a 60s Ne cotton yarn sells for Rs. 250 (US$ 4.07) per kilogram, while the price that is sustainable for the Indian spinning industry is around Rs. 275 (US$ 4.47) per kilogram, stated the source from South India. Around the same period last year, 60s Ne cotton yarn was about Rs. 295 (US$ 4.80) per kilogram.
Additionally, the technical expert suggested that with the oil price trading in mid $40 for a barrel, it would put pressure on the polyester industry to reduce its price, further aggravating the situation in the cotton industry. Indian polyester price is expected to further go down South to Rs. 80 (US$1.30) per kilogram sometime next week, while this price was Rs. 110 (US$ 1.79) per kilogram last year.  Volatility in polyester price will also influence the global cotton price.

    From the Indian spinning industry point of view , this latest move by CCI to dispose 5,100 bales should lead to softening the volatility and support spinners to realize adequate value for the yarns. However, the current policy adopted by CCI to sell its cotton is also not well received as it stipulates the minimum amount of deposit money needed to book cotton, say 15 to 20% of the total cotton value.

    Gaining price stability and an upward tilt in the cotton price are needed for the economic viability of the Indian spinning sector.

    Note: Conversion rate used: 1$ US = 61.39 Rupees.




Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D.  •  Texas Tech University  •  Department of Environmental Toxicology

Box 41163  •  Lubbock, TX 79409-1163 •  806.885.4567  •