Texas Tech Develops Technology For Chemical Clean-Up - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/3/08

Texas Tech Develops Technology For Chemical Clean-Up

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Texas Tech University is leading the nation in research for materials to decontaminate chemical warfare agents.

Wednesday, researchers from the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech introduced a new wipe called Fibertect. They say this wipe is the best material available to clean-up dangerous chemical substances. The creation of this wipe is important because a Congressional panel recently concluded it's likely terrorists will use a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the world by the year 2013. The researchers at Tech hope their invention will be the first line of defense.

Fibertect looks a lot like a paper towel, but the dry wipe called is not as simple as it looks. It has a carbon core that can soak up many dangerous chemicals. "It has both absorbency to hold liquid and also to hold gases," said researcher Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar. 

Texas Tech researchers spent about five years working on the multi-million dollar project funded by the U.S. Army. Wednesday, their results were praised by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as the best of 30 projects tested.

Researchers tested the wipe with several chemicals including a dangerous chemical warfare agent that causes severe blisters called Sulfur Mustard. They found the wipe resistant to harsh chemical conditions. It can also absorb vapors or gases, and has a flexible form. "The flexible form of this fabric allows it to conform to virtually any shape and size, which is unique for personal decontamination. This enables virtually any bulk liquid contamination to be removed using this dry wipe," said Dr. Adam Love who tested the product. 

Researchers and marketers hope those qualities will lead to commercialization of a product that could save the lives of both First Responders and civilians in the case of a chemical attack.

Texas Tech licensed the technology to Hobbs Bonded Fibers who is now organizing a global marketing team. Hobbs will give 10 percent of all profits from Fibertect back to Texas Tech.

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