Among the many uses, cotton has been found to have industrial applications as well as new and value-added technical applications. One is environmental clean-up following oil spills. It’s been seen that finer raw cotton in loose form performs best for absorbing oil. The oil spill issue has become a global issue, as it affects human health and environment.
Most oil absorbents are synthetic-based, which also leads to problems in marine environments. Cotton is a biodegradable and natural product which is an efficient and cost-effective oil absorbent. The oil absorption characteristics of finer and coarser cotton were compared in loose, needle punched nonwoven and hydro entangled nonwoven forms. Finer cotton in loose forms was proven superior for oil absorbency. Among the important characteristics of cotton, micronaire – a measure based on cotton’s air permeability – is an indicator of its fineness and maturity. Cotton micronaire was found to be suitable for oleophilic applications such as spill remediation.
Cotton's micronaire measurement impacts the following: processing waste; neps (knots of tangled fiber); spinning performance; yarn and fabric quality; and dyed fabric appearance. If the growing season ends too early, cotton will have a lower micronaire. An early frost will inhibit fiber development. Higher micronaire values come from other issues like drought stress, water stress, or higher yields. In these scenarios, the plants overproduce carbohydrates, which make the fiber's cell walls thicker.