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Texas Tech Launches
The 4,000-square-foot facility, named the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, was unveiled earlier this spring. The new lab’s air conditioning and humidification system, contoured needlezone needle-punching technology and thermal bonding capability will allow for faster, more focused research into nonwoven technologies.
Funding for the lab’s $1.5 million cost included $125,000 from Lubbock Economic Development Alliance and nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for the machinery. Overall, nonwoven re-search at Texas Tech has received $2.5 million in DoD funding.
“The opening of this unique manufacturing and research facility is another big step forward for The Institute of Environmental and Human Health and for Texas Tech,” says Kent Hance, chancellor of Texas Tech University System.
“I want to acknowledge the efforts of Rep. Neugebauer and the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance for their understanding of benefits of this facility and their assistance in funding it.”
Texas Tech University now is the only academic facility in the United States to have contoured needlezone nonwoven technology, says Ron Kendall, director of TIEHH.
“We are exclusive in the way we’re set up here with the unique needle-punch nonwoven technology and access to cotton,” he says. “This technology has been used successfully to develop products such as our nonwoven decontamination wipe, Fibertect.
“The need for decontamination wipes, such as the kind we’ve created here at TIEHH, was a top priority for the Department of Defense. Years ago, we began the research, developed a product and met a top national security issue.”
Seshadri Ramkumar, associate professor, lab manager and Fibertect creator, says the new nonwoven facility will help TIEHH to continue top-quality research into protective fabrics and other nonwoven materials. Fibertect is a platform technology, and different fibers, including natural fibers such as cotton, can be used depending on applications and requirements, Ramkumar says.
“Our aim is to find value-added applications for products made of cotton grown on the High Plains,” says Ramkumar.
Research in natural fibers has been supported by the Food and Fibers Research Grant program of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Cotton Incorporated, The Cotton Foundation, The CH Foundation of Lubbock, Plains Cotton Growers Inc. and USDA through the International Cotton Research Center at Texas Tech.
Texas Tech University contributed information for this article.