A researcher from Texas Tech University is being honoured for innovation that could not only help the local economy but also transform the method to produce usable products from low-grade cotton.
The Leidigh Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science and director of the Fibre & Biopolymer Research Institute (FBRI), Noureddine Abidi was awarded Discover Natural Fibres Initiative (DNFI) Innovation Award 2020 for his innovative discovery and recently received a patent for his work on converting low-grade cotton to a cellulose gel that can be utilised in a variety of ways.
He stated that he was pleased to receive the award and gain recognition by the international, natural-fibres stakeholder community. He added that their innovation that developed bioplastic materials from low-quality cotton cellulose held great importance not only to produce biodegradable and environmentally friendly materials but also to find a market for the low-quality cotton and cotton wastes.
The gel procured can be utilised in 3D printers, which can then be used to create myriad products like face masks and shields. A phase of research included inserting the gel into a 3D printer jet to produce scaffolds or the skeleton of other products or placing it in a mould to give it a certain shape. The aim of this kind of research was to determine whether the product could withstand specific conditions, such as high humidity, high heat or high strength/elongation.
The professor’s previous work included the creation of antimicrobial textiles, self-cleaned textiles and the physicochemical characterization of pollen shells. This was achieved by utilising Fourier-transform infrared microspectroscopy (FTIR), a technique used to obtain an infrared spectrum of absorption or emission of a solid, liquid or gas. He is also known for conducting research utilising FTIR microspectroscopy imaging characterization of biological tissues such as liver, lung and adipose tissue, serum and plasma.
His latest innovation has the potential to revolutionize cotton. The scope of this discovery results in new innovations and could answer the industry’s call towards sustainable practices.
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