Biotech Updates

ARS Scientists Test Nanotech Cotton

April 20, 2012

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are using advance techniques in nanotechnology in improving cotton to compete with synthetic fibers like polyester. In one of their projects, they partnered with Texas A&M University experts to assess an environmentally friendly flame-retardant for cotton apparel and durable goods. The retardant was developed by coating the cotton fibers with clay nanoparticles. According to Brian Condon, U.S. Agricultural Research Service scientist, there is a need for alternatives for halogenated flame retardants that are more benign and won't cause treated fabric to stiffen. Initial trials of the nanocoating using flame-resistance tests have shown favorable results.

In another project, ARS researchers are generating ultrasonic fields of mechanical energy to enhance enzyme-based processing of raw cotton to remove waxes and other fiber components that can impede the dying process and diminish product quality.

Visit the USDA ARS website for more details