Bioproducts Offer New Opportunities for Cotton
More and more, research in cotton is focusing beyond yield and quality issues to help support U.S. cotton producers.
Professor Noureddine Abidi, managing director of the Texas Tech University Fiber and Biopolymer Institute (FBRI), is using waste and low-grade cotton to develop bioproducts that could provide many nonconventional applications for cotton.
Abidi and his team have been working for the past five years to derive cellulose-based bioproducts with the aim of developing environmentally-friendly materials. These products derived from waste cotton could have multiple opportunities such as biodegradable films and porous materials.
Conventionally, regenerated cellulosic materials use wood pulp as a starting material. The research at FBRI uses cotton as the base material to develop regenerated cellulose. A solvent separates cotton into cellulosic chains without degrading the cellulosic component, resulting in cellulosic gels.
With heightened awareness about microplastic issues in the environment, such cotton-based biomaterials may offer a better solution in the near term, stated Abidi. He hopes that process efficiencies can be improved in due course, leading to cost effective biodegradable products.
The research at FBRI complements the work carried at the Advanced Cotton Laboratory at Texas Tech University that focuses on the application of low micronaire cotton as environmentally-friendly oil absorbents.
The Texas State Support Committee of Cotton Incorporated is supporting these novel projects that enable industrial applications for cotton.