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Biodegradable fibrous oil sorbent created

April 25th, 2019 / By: / EcoNote

by Seshadri Ramkumar

A Texas Tech University’s (TTU) alumni has invented a line of oil-absorbent mats and wipes. The product, named “Towelie,” evolved out of a collaboration between India and the U.S., utilizing strengths in the textile and advanced materials sectors in the two nations. 

Ronald Kendall Jr. showed interest in finding sustainable solutions for toxic oil spills as a high school student. He carried out research in this scribe’s Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory from fall 2011 to spring 2012. Kendall attended TTU majoring in energy commerce and has followed his passion for finding environmentally friendly solutions for toxic oil spills. As a result, he founded E Innovate LLC. Kendall serves as its president, assisted by young entrepreneurs who share his passion. 

Towelieis not only an oil absorbent, it functions as a wipe for cleaning leaking well heads, rods and tubes in oil and gas production. Some oil producers have tested the product as a replacement of the shop rags and other synthetic oil-absorbing mats. Towelie products are said to enhance production efficiency, improve workflow in oil and natural gas fields, and offer a sustainable solution. 

Towelie is offered in different versions depending on the need of the customer, including a 100 percent biodegradable product. The biodegradability of these products is timely, as microplastics and plastic contamination issues are getting serious attention due to potential environmental and human health risks.

Kendall says he expects the product to “transition into various fields, such as manufacturing, marine, mining and the automobile sector due to its application capability such as sorbents, wipes.”