Texas Tech researchers testing new, innovative application for l - FOX34 Lubbock

Texas Tech researchers testing new, innovative application for low-quality cotton

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Cotton is king in West Texas, but with heavy flooding last harvest, many farmers lost the quality of their crop.

That is why Noureddine Abidi and his team of researchers at the Texas Tech Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute are testing a new application for low-quality cotton.

If the cotton is graded high enough, it goes into processing for products like clothes, but if the crop is poor or damaged by weather, it goes to the chemistry lab for a different purpose -- plastic.

"We press it to remove the water and then we turn that to a plastic film so it has the appearance of a petroleum-based film. It is 100% cotton, meaning that when it degrades, it will degrade in CO2 and water, so it will not give up anything else towards the environment except what we can find in the soil," Abidi said.

He added this would be the first time cotton has been used as a plastic, calling this alternative a gamechanger in the industry, as it provides much-needed insurance for farmers.

"This is really a value added to low-graded cotton. While it doesn't replace high-quality cotton that has its own market, this is really something that will be discounted otherwise and likely wouldn't be sold," Abidi said.

Therefore, Abidi said no matter how difficult harvest season or the weather may be, he said his team's research indicates a strong message for all cotton farmers.

"Every bale that is produced will have a value. If it is not premier cotton for textile processing, it will be used to make a new, advanced for product for a new application," Abidi said.

Texas is the nation's number one cotton producing state, and Abidi said his team's research to find new applications for the crop will help protect each farmer's investment.

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