Scientists from The Bombay Textile Research Association claimed to have developed bio-degradable, eco-friendly oil sorbent from cotton waste. “The developed sorbent can be used to clean oil spills on land surface, water surface and even under water also”, said Mr. M P Sathianarayanan, Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator of the R&D project.

There is a great potential for oil sorbents made from natural fibres to replace synthetic oil sorbents like polypropylene. In India, high cotton production is accompanied by generation of tons of cotton waste in each year in textile mills. Most of these wastes are disposed off by burning which in turn increases carbon emission in atmosphere. It leads to global warming and creates environment pollution. Hence, utilization of cotton waste as oil sorbent will be a value addition and eco-friendly as well as a green initiative to control pollution in a dual manner, opined BTRA Scientist.

Cotton waste procured from textile mills in their various processes such as blow room, carding etc. was cleaned and processed to a non-woven fabric. The non-woven fabric was chemically modified to attain super oleophilic and super hydrophobic property. The chemically functionalized cotton sorbent was found to be superior to synthetic sorbent viz, polypropylene in terms of oil absorption capacities and water repellent properties. Sorbent can absorb 25to 30 times of oil on the weight of sorbent. Sorbent has sufficient durability to reuse at least 5to 6 times repeatedly and is bio-degradable under environmental conditions, thereby mitigating its disposal problem unlike synthetic materials.

“The developed sorbent has been evaluated for its efficacy for cleaning oil spill in land surface, water surface and under water, as it is extremely water repellant like a lotus leaf”, BTRA Scientist, claimed.

Patent has been filed for this development and we are on the process of commercializing the product, said Dr. Anjan K Mukhopadhyay , Director, BTRA.

Floating oil on water surface
oil soaked sorbent
Lotus leaf effect
under water oil spill cleaning