On October 3, 2021, approx. 126,000 gallons (477,000 l) of crude oil leaked into the Pacific Ocean after a pipeline burst near the Southern California coast. Now, the US Coast Guard is racing against time to contain the spill and mitigate environmental damage.
Seshadri Ramkumar, a professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials at the Department of Environmental Toxicology of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX/USA, in collaboration with his research team and Jayalakshmi Textiles Pvt. Ltd., Aruppukottai/India, has developed a sustainable cotton product that can absorb oil instantaneously.
Using untreated low-grade cotton, an absorbent, nonwoven mat called Towelie has been developed capable of collecting 50 times its own weight in oil. Raw, low-micronaire cotton is hydrophobic, meaning it will float on the surface of the water without sinking – ideal for toxic oil absorption.