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TTU, Enercon Partner To Advance Plasma Technology

February 10, 2009

Effort could lead to apparel-grade nonwovens or other value-add fabrics.

The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University is partnering with Enercon Industries Corp. to combine each organization’s expertise to develop technology to advance the functionality of nonwovens and technical textiles.
Seshadri Ramkumar, an associate professor in the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory of TIEHH, said the partnership seeks to explore the opportunities of commercializing atmospheric plasma technology in the nonwovens and specialty fabrics industry to make apparel-grade nonwovens and other value-added fabrics, such as liquid-repellant fabrics and breathable protective fabrics.
Plasma technology is a surface modification treatment technique using gases for the nonwoven and technical textile industry to modify the surface of the materials. This makes them for various desired applications, such as making a fabric more or less absorbent, he said. Before, this treatment could be carried out only at low pressure, which was not feasible commercially, but more recently, atmospheric pressure plasma technology was developed in which the plasma treatment could be achieved in normal atmospheric pressure.
We are very excited at the possibilities of working with Enercon, Dr. Ramkumar said. Initial lab trials indicate that Enercons atmospheric plasma technology improves a nonwoven fabrics breathability by as much as 95%, which is a welcoming result for exploring atmospheric plasma for a number of value-added applications.”
Rory Wolf, Enercon's vice president of business development, said his corporation has pioneered the use of atmospheric plasma in a number of industries including textiles during the last decade.
“Success with enhancing the wettability and dyeability of textiles is well-proven,” Mr. Wolf said. “Texas Techs leading-edge material expertise will allow us to apply and advance our technology for even greater surface functionality of industrial fabrics.

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