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TIEHH And Enercon Partner To Advance Nonwovens And Technical Textiles

The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Lubbock, Texas-based Texas Tech University has partnered with Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Enercon Industries Corp. - a manufacturer of equipment for the plastics and packaging industries - to develop advanced nonwovens and technical textiles technology. The team will research opportunities to commercialize atmospheric plasma technology for nonwovens and specialty fabrics applications including apparel-grade nonwovens and other value-added fabrics, such as liquid-repellent and breathable protective fabrics.

Plasma technology uses gas to alter a material's surface. According to Seshadri Ramkumar, an associate professor in TIEHH's Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, the technology is suitable for a number of applications such as making fabrics more or less absorbent. Previously, the treatment could only be performed at a low pressure, but technology has recently been developed that enables the use of normal atmospheric pressure.

"We are very excited at the possibilities of working with Enercon," Ramkumar said. "Initial lab trials indicate that Enercon's atmospheric plasma technology improves a nonwovens fabric's breathability by as much as 95 percent, which is a welcoming result for exploring atmospheric plasma for a number of value-added applications."

"Success with enhancing the wettability and dyeability of textiles is well-proven," said Rory Wolf, vice president of business development, Enercon. "Texas Tech's leading-edge material expertise will allow us to apply and advance our technology for even greater surface functionality of industrial fabrics."

February 17, 2009