Easy-Care Cotton Inventor Receives Achievement Award

Easy-Care Cotton InventorReceives Achievement AwardDr. Ruth Rogan Benerito, inventor of easy-care cotton, has received the eighth annual Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award for invention and innovation. The $500,000 award was presented during a special ceremony at the San Francisco Museum of Art by the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Mass.Dr. Benerito, who worked for 33 years at the Southern Regional Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is credited with saving the cotton industry in the years following World War II, when fabrics made from man-made fibers were gaining popularity over cotton fabrics among American consumers. Her theory of crosslinking cellulose chains in cotton to provide wrinkle, stain and flame resistance received the first of 55 U.S. patents for processes used in cotton production. Dr. Benerito also created an environmentally safe process for the pretreatment of cotton, replacing mercerization using sodium hydroxide with radiofrequency cold plasma cleaning. The process was later adopted by the Japanese textile industry.June 2002