Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar
October 5, 2021
Indo-U.S. Collaborative Cotton-Based Product Can Absorb Oil Spills Quickly, Sustainably
ELYSSA SANDERS \ OCTOBER 5, 2021
Nonwoven cotton could be the solution to recurring oil spills around the globe, according to one Texas Tech professor.
On Sunday (Oct. 3), approximately 126,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the Pacific Ocean after a pipeline burst near the Southern California coast. Now, the U.S. Coast Guard is racing against time to contain the spill and mitigate environmental damage.
Seshadri Ramkumar, a professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials at Texas Tech University's Department of Environmental Toxicology, in collaboration with his research team and the India-based company Jayalakshmi Textiles, has developed a sustainable cotton product that can absorb oil instantaneously.
“Oil spills have become a recurring issue around the world, destroying wildlife habitats, compromising food sources and threatening human health,” Ramkumar said. “With this product, Texas Tech is at the forefront of research developments in oil-absorbing materials.”
Using untreated low-grade cotton, Ramkumar and his team developed an absorbent, nonwoven mat capable of collecting 50 times its own weight in oil. Raw, low-micronaire cotton is hydrophobic, meaning it will float on the surface of the water without sinking – ideal for toxic oil absorption.
October 4, 2021
TTU Student Senate Recognition
TTU’s Student Senate, the elected representative body of students has recognized Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar’ work on personnel protective equipment, face masks and in building the field of Technical Textiles in India, which has played vital role during COVID-19 pandemic. The student body passed this as a Student Senate Resolution 57.22 in its September 2021 meeting.
September 27, 2021
TTU’s Innovation Hub has released Commercialization Roadmap 2.0, wherein the innovation from TIEHH, ”FiberTect™,” has been featured. Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar has collaborated with Chantilly-based First Line Technology to commercialize the decontamination wipe technology, which is used by first responders and many government agencies around the world.
September 9, 2021
Sept 5, 2021
Ramkumar: Considering face coverings, safety and children
With the new academic year just started in the United States, what type of face masks are needed?
There is debate and discussion going on regarding the use of face masks for school children who cannot be vaccinated yet and the necessity of these masks as an important countermeasure.
Ongoing research in our laboratory has shown that layered masks are better compared with single-layer masks. As comfort is a factor, in addition to filtration, next-to-skin comfort can be provided using a cotton layer and additional layers can be used to enhance filtration. While N95 masks are the gold standard, 3-ply face masks can provide filtration of small particles with a filtration efficiency in the range of 80-90 percent, proving multilayered masks are needed.
August 23, 2021
Dr. Ramkumar's Interview With Texas Standard
Don’t Throw Away Your Homemade Mask, But Make Sure It’s Giving You Maximum Protection Against The Delta Variant | Texas Standard
Texas Standard, which is aired on 30+ National Public Radio stations across Texas, including Texas Tech Public Media has carried an interview of Professor Seshadri Ramkumar on the usefulness of face masks in fighting the pandemic on August 20, 2021.
August 11, 2021
Face Masks Can Filter Particles Similar to COVID-19 Microbes Size
By Camelia Juarez
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 6:48 PM CDT
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD)
- Texas Tech researchers prove that cheap, three-ply masks can filter 90% of COVID-19 particles.
Even as the particles get smaller, consistent results show this mask filters out COVID-19 particles up to 90%.
To come to this conclusion, Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar said the fractional efficiency filter tester will pump particles, the same size as covid particles, on one side and count how many particles come through to the other side.
“Our results are proving again and again that this simple mask can protect small particles up to 90%. That’s some magic. This is a magic lifesaver. So you don’t have to go for an expensive mask, regular three ply mass can do the trick,” Ramkumar said
Health experts say the delta variant is tearing through the state because it has a higher viral load- meaning more covid particles. At the same time, the CDC encouraged vaccinated folks to wear masks indoors.
Doctor Ramkumar says this study shows protecting our hospitals, children and immune-compromised friends doesn’t cost much.
Let’s practice safety, which is doable. It’s not $10 a piece facemask it’s just 10 cents at the maximum or $1 at the maximum. Doctor Ramkumar is going around town testing different masks, and working to enhance the filtration of cotton masks, but for now—he insists these will do the trick.
“Let’s practice safety, which is doable. It’s not $10 a piece facemask it’s just 10 cents at the maximum, or $1 at the maximum.”
Doctor Ramkumar is going around town testing different masks, and working to enhance the filtration of cotton masks, but for now—he insists these will do the trick.
July 28, 2021
Effectiveness of Face Masks Against Particles Similar in Size to Coronavirus
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar’s data shows three-ply face masks can filter out 60-80% of simulated viral particles between 150 and 30 nanometers in diameter, respectively.
July 12, 2021
Impact of TIEHH Research in Saving Lives
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar’s two decades of collaborative research and outreach with India in technical textiles has been featured in the July issue of Indian Science Monitor, pages 30-32. Indian Science Monitor is edited by archaeologist and writer, Dr. Rajan.
July 1, 2021
University Community Joins Plastic Free July
LUCY GREENBERG July 1, 2021
Faculty, staff and students have the opportunity to see if they can make it through a month without using single-use plastics.
This month is Plastic Free July.
Every year, the Plastic Free Foundation hosts a monthlong challenge in July with the goal of reducing the use of single-use plastic. Many people complete the challenge every year. This year, Texas Tech University is joining in.
Texas Tech spearheads research initiatives year-round when it comes to consuming less plastic and identifying alternative materials. One example is the research being conducted by the Department of Environmental Toxicology in using cotton to absorb toxic oil as well as alternative material to plastic such as cotton nonwoven wipes.
“Plastics are petroleum based and they do not degrade, unlike natural materials like cotton,” said Seshadri Ramkumar, a professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology in Texas Tech's College of Arts & Sciences. “Plastics add to the environmental burden. Issues like global warming and landfills arise due to non-biodegradable materials. Reduce, reuse and recycle should be the goal.”
It can certainly be daunting to go from using plastic every day to suddenly using none. Plastic is in almost everything we use. However, there is a difference between single-use plastics and reusable plastics.
June 2, 2021
Saving Lives: India’s Technical Textile Revolution Paved Way for COVID-19 Response
GLENYS YOUNG, JUNE 2, 2021
Seshadri Ramkumar has played a vital role in the industry’s growth over two-plus decades.
As COVID-19 surged through the U.S. last spring and summer, the country found itself facing an alarming shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE) frontline health care workers desperately needed to battle the pandemic.
This year, on the other side of the globe, India is embroiled in the same struggle, except for one key thing. Until mid-2020, the U.S. relied on China to produce most of the PPE it used. In contrast, India is self-reliant – it can produce its own PPE because of its widespread support for and adoption of the technical textiles industry. Technical textiles such as nonwoven fabrics are important components of face masks, medical gowns and PPE.
It wasn't always this way, but the work of one Texas Tech University professor over the last two-plus decades has played a vital role in preparing India for the very fight it's in now.
After completing his doctorate in materials, textiles and fiber science in 1998, Seshadri Ramkumar joined Texas Tech. In 1999, with a major investment from the U.S. Department of Defense, he began researching nonwoven materials for defensive applications, such as chemical and environmental decontamination.
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April 5, 2021
Mask Mandates Reduced COVID-19 in Roughly Two-Thirds of States
Published Thursday (April 1) in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the research analysis by doctoral student James Ayodeji and his adviser Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of chemical countermeasures and advanced materials, shows that roughly two-thirds of states saw a reduction in COVID-19 cases in the three to four weeks after enacting a mask mandate.
February 9, 2021
Division Leadership and Service Award Presented to
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar received the 2020 Nonwovens Engineers & Technologists Division’s Leadership and Service Award from the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI). TAPPI is a leading professional organization and is over 100 years old.
January 27, 2021
Texas Tech Decontamination Wipe Finds New Use Helping Animals
GLENYS YOUNG, JANUARY 27, 2021
FiberTectTM was conceived for military applications but has since expanded into oil spills and, now, animal operations.
Anyone with a dog knows what happens when the animal gets wet: the big shake that throws water all over everyone and everything nearby. But what happens if the dog is covered in something more hazardous than water?
It also gets thrown all over everyone and everything nearby.
Two years ago, Brett Huff, an animal decontamination specialist, was looking for a better solution than the diluted-dish-soap-and-water method he was using to clean animals. It was messy, distressing to the animals – even in warm weather, let alone the freezing temperatures of winter – and, when it was all over, he had a huge amount of contaminated water to dispose of, which had to be done safely.
That's when a member of the U.S. Army's Special Forces asked if he'd heard of FiberTectTM.
Sonoma News Tribune Story
December 16, 2020
Researchers At Texas Tech Use Photodegradation
To Remove Toxic Dyes From Wastewater
A team of Texas Tech University researchers working in advanced textiles has found a new
way to remove toxic dye pollutants from wastewater, and their approach is safer, cheaper and easier than traditional methods.
December 10, 2020
Science News For Students cited Dr. Ramkumar group's nanofiber filter technology in the article:
Why today’s ‘fast fashions’ can be bad for the planet
The constant buy-wear-toss cycle of such clothes also costs more in the long run
... Another group invented a reusable filter to catch and break up synthetic dyes. Seshadri Ramkumar is a materials scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He and his team made this filter from a web of nanofibers. A water-repelling compound keeps the web from absorbing water. Meanwhile, the web traps larger dye molecules in its small pores. After the filter dries, a titanium-dioxide compound in it helps visible light break down the dye.
Sunlight activates the dye breakdown, notes Ramkumar. His group has tested the filter with a red dye. After six hours, eight in every 10 of the dye molecules had broken down. The rest broke down over the course of seven weeks. (Over time, dye colors can fade in visible light, but not that quickly.)
Using sunlight helps keep the dye-breakdown costs low. That matters in a competitive industry like fashion, Ramkumar says. “There needs to be a balance between technology and cost.”
He and his team just described their new filter in the October issue of the Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering.
Grad Students Explore Cotton as a COVID-19 Countermeasure
Face masks are front and center in this year’s U.S. Presidential election – even becoming part of gift baskets this holiday season.
With wintry weather on the horizon, COVID-19 cases are expected to rise, as is evident in the recent surge in Europe and United States. Given these circumstances, sharing knowledge on biomedical and nonmedical countermeasures are the need of the hour.
I have been handling graduate level courses in the Spring and current Fall semester to discuss state-of-the-art in personal protection against infectious diseases and toxic chemicals. A highlight of the current class is the engaged discussions on the usefulness of PPEs – and particularly cotton as a countermeasure material.
October 7, 2020
The Truth About Cotton Waste
In commemoration of World Cotton Day (Oct 7), Washington, DC-based influential global association of governments with stake in the cotton sector, International Cotton Advisory Committee has released a video on new applications of cotton. "Cotton Oil Absorbent" research carried out in Professor Seshadri Ramkumar's laboratory at Texas Tech University is highlighted in the video that includes many breakthroughs in cotton. Oil absorbent work appears at the 2-minute segment.
August 31, 2020
Tech cotton researcher develops COVID-19 protection
By: Adán Rubio
News Editor Aug 26, 2020
When thinking of COVID-19 defenses, one may not think about a fiber that can be found across the state. For one Texas Tech professor, cotton is a key component to developing effective masks.
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor of advanced materials in the Tech Department of Environmental Toxicology, has been researching the use of cotton in filtration processes for many years. With the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, he now is using his knowledge of filtration and cotton fibers to develop more efficient masks.
August 16, 2020
Seeing the good that can come from masking
Posted Aug 16, 2020 at 12:01 AM
As schools and colleges begin to open, there is new normal in the shopping list — masks.
There is more good out of masking — safety and indeed opportunities for economic revival.
COVID-19 has genuinely raised the profile of items such as masks and hygiene products. When the pandemic was at its peak, lack of availability of surgical and respiratory masks exposed the vulnerability of our nation in a few sectors, as China has been controlling those markets. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has in fact rejuvenated interest and the need of the manufacturing sector.
Lubbock and Texas Tech have a long history of forward thinking by investing in research and education. This fact has gained great visibility in the present pandemic with Texas Tech having the state’s first COVID-19 testing center, whose seed was sown way back in 1997 with the establishment of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health with renowned wildlife toxicologist Dr. Ronald Kendall as its founding director.
No one would have envisioned that at numerous major disaster, whether it was Hurricane Katrina, or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill or the COVID-19, the institute is at forefront. Investment some 23 years back in the R&D infrastructure is richly paying off with the development of critical technologies such as FiberTect wipe, establishing testing centers, attracting topnotch scientists and students from around the world to Lubbock—all contributing positively to the local economy.
The effort is a showcase of good partnership between town and gown, which again has become critical in controlling the pandemic. “This kind of partnership is exactly what is needed with COVID-19, which is a significant biological threat to our nation. COVID-19 has not only impacted our health and well-being as United States citizens, but it has also had enormous economic impacts on our economy and our financial well-being,” Kendall said.
July 3, 2020
Texas Tech professor collaborates with local businesses to enhances cloth masks
by: Olivia Whitehead
Posted: Jul 3, 2020 / 11:30 AM CDT / Updated: Jul 3, 2020 / 12:25 PM CDT
LUBBOCK, Texas — COVID-19 is continuing to evolve, which means prevention measures must evolve with it. With the constant need for masks, surgical and N95 respirators are in short supply.
The Centers for Disease Control now recommends cloth alternatives to surgical and respirator masks.
Scarborough Specialties Inc. has taken matters into their own hands by producing cloth face masks.
“Something is better than nothing, to get something on peoples faces and help protect them from coughing and sneezing and whatever it is,” CEO Jay Jacobus said. “Its is not going to be as good [as a respirator], but has definitely proven to give some level of protection.”
This protection is not only for yourself but for others as well. According to Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D., a Texas Tech Professor of Chemical Countermeasures and Advanced Materials, the chances of protection from infection increases with a barrier.
“The two major theories are fibrous, fine particles either travel as an aerosol, depending on the size and the load, and if they are a heavier size they go as a droplet and settle,” he said. “So it’s airborne, predominantly. Your chances of protecting yourself and others is far better if you have an barrier.”
To magnify this barrier, Ramkumar created a filter in collaboration with Scarborough. This filter consists of a non-woven cotton insert that enhances the effectiveness of cloth masks.
“It’s a cotton filtrate, substrate material that is really more like a raw type of cotton.” Jacobus said. “We figured a way to integrate that as a filter into our other mask that we were making, and it’s been a great opportunity to give a whole different layer of filtration.”
They both said that the filter isn’t meant to replace surgical masks, but instead add an extra shield of protection against the virus when used with cloth face coverings.
May 27, 2020
Seshadri Ramkumar Explains Differences Among Types of Face Masks
Rigorous Testing Is Needed, But There's Reason to Believe Nonwoven Cotton Might Enhance Filtration Capability of Common Face Covers
When it comes to blocking coughs and sneezes, any mask is better than none. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated so vividly, not all masks are created equal.
At a time when the most effective masks continue to be reserved for the most critical personnel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone wear cloth face coverings in public settings, while also practicing 6-feet social distancing.
In a recently released 45-second video, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams demonstrated how to make a multi-layered face cover from an old t-shirt and two rubber bands. Meanwhile, the Internet is flush with merchants selling face covers of all descriptions, some of which include a pocket to hold various types of filters.
In the midst of all of this, one Texas Tech University (TTU) scientist has spent much of his 20-year career studying personal protective equipment (PPE)—particularly nonwoven cotton substrates—and their effectiveness against a host of environmental and human-health challenges.
Seshadri Ramkumar, professor and supervisor of the Chemical Countermeasures and Advanced Materials Laboratory at TTU's Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), developed the chemical decontamination wipe Fibertect®, which has tested highly effective in adsorbing certain chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals and pesticides.
During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, his work proved the effectiveness of natural cotton as a crude oil absorbent. A more recent breakthrough is his work with Ph.D. student Lihua Lou in developing a nanofiber filter that, when combined with visible light, can remove toxic dye pollutants from wastewater safer, cheaper and easier than traditional methods.
Ramkumar explains the efficiency of any barrier-type mask—one that covers the nose and mouth—depends on its filtration capability, its fit and its form or comfort; and they all fall into four general categories:
May 20, 2020
PROFESSOR: NONWOVEN COTTON CAN MAKE BETTER FACE MASKS
The use of face masks has become commonplace for many people as more businesses reopen, and one professor says some masks work better than others.
Wednesday, May 20th 2020, 12:43 AM CDT by Tori McGee
May 14, 2020
International Collaboration Develops Innovative Face Mask for COVID-19
By Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar | May 14, 2020
As industries in India and other economics slowly resume their manufacturing activities, social distancing and strict hygiene practices have become a new normal. This has enhanced the need for hand sanitizers, gloves and face masks. Industries are looking for innovative ways to survive by repurposing their capacities that can cater to meeting the COVID-19 situation.
Arrow Brogues, Pvt. Ltd., a shoe manufacturer in Ranipet, India, is collaborating with the Nonwovens and Advanced Laboratory at Texas Tech University and Chennai-based WellGro United to develop filtering and fashionable face masks.
Arrow Brogues has been manufacturing shoes for 20 years, catering to Indian and foreign markets such as Italy, Germany and United Kingdom. The new masks, which use nonwoven cotton as the core filter substrate, are released under brand name H.F. Journey. The design expertise of Arrow Brogues has been valuable in the development of H.F. Journey masks, and WellGro United supplies the core filter substrate for the masks.
“We understand the need for protection technologies and hence sought the collaboration with Texas Tech University in developing masks that have functionality and fashion sense,” stated Velayutham Pandy, managing director of Arrow Brogues.
The project showcases timely innovation, as it has repurposed the cotton nonwoven technology to develop filter substrate. “This is a milestone for WellGro United, as it has created a new vertical in our line of products which find timely use,” stated Nambi Srinivasan, vice president marketing of WellGro United.
It is pleasing to report cotton is finding new applications in the current COVID-19 scenario, enabling a few timely innovations.
April 30, 2020
Lubbock Groups Develop New Face Mask with Cotton Nonwoven Filter
By Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar | April 30, 2020
A prototype of the new face cover developed with cotton nonwoven as core filter substrate.
“In the time of stress, it is necessary to collaborate and find the right partners to develop tools to race against COVID-19,” stated Ronald Kendall, Jr., founder and president of E Innovate.
Prior to COVID-19, the medical and first responder community widely used N95 and surgical masks. However, due to the severity of transmission and to support social distancing, face covers made from fabrics have evolved. Yet, depending on the structure and the material makeup, its ability to filter may vary. That need led to the collaboration to improve the filtration capability of common face covers.
April 27, 2020
March 18, 2020
Decontamination Wipe From Texas Tech Could Help Coronavirus Cleanup Efforts
FiberTect's structure, with its activated carbon core, can wipe the bodily fluids that transmit viruses.
A decontamination wipe invented by a Texas Tech University researcher to clean up toxic agents also could clean up bodily fluids contaminated with the coronavirus.
"It is widely used as the primary dry decontamination method in hospitals and ambulances," said Corey Collings, a training specialist for First Line Technology, which markets FiberTectTM. "Hospitals use it in bulk and in rolls, and ambulances use it in a kit called the FastGrab to do immediate decontamination of patients contaminated with a wide variety of substances."
Ramkumar: Face covers and the fight against COVID-19Full Story
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Our view: Research, innovation keys in fighting pandemic Full Story
© The Department of Environmental Toxicology (ENTX) - All Rights Reserved
The Department of Environmental Toxicology (ENTX) is the academic home for the core faculty of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) and the Institute for Forensic Science (IFS) at Texas Tech University. TIEHH and IFS provide faculty and graduate students opportunities for multidisciplinary research and scholarly engagement related to environmental, forensic and human health sciences.