By Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
A Texas Tech University’s (TTU) alumni has enabled the market penetration of different versions of efficient oil absorbent mats and wipes, “Towelie TM.” The product has evolved out of a successful collaboration between India and United States utilizing strengths in the textile and advanced materials sectors in the two nations.
Ronald Kendall, Jr., showed interest in finding sustainable solutions for toxic oil spill as a high school student and carried out research in this scribe’s Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory during Fall 2011-Spring 2012. Kendall, Jr., attended TTU majoring in energy commerce and has continued his passion for finding environmentally friendly solutions for toxic oil spills, which has resulted in his founding, E Innovate, LLC. Kendall, Jr., serves as its president ably assisted by young entrepreneurs who have a passion to innovate and finding environmentally friendly solutions to complex problems such as oil contamination.
Towelie TM is not only an oil absorbent, it functions as an efficient wipe for cleaning leaking well heads, rods and tubes in oil and gas production. Field studies in oil production wells in the Permian Basin have been successful and well received by leading companies. “This product has been exceeding expectations in efficiently wiping and absorbing hydrocarbons in oil and gas drilling operations and pipelines,” stated Ronald Kendall, Jr.
Some of the largest oil producers have tested the product to replace the shop rags and other synthetic oil absorbing mats. Towelie TM products enhance production efficiency, result in the improvement in workflow in oil and natural gas fields and it offers a sustainable solution as the absorbent core is biodegradable. These products are timely as microplastics and plastic contamination issues are getting serious attention, due to potential environmental and human health risks.
Towelie TM is offered in different versions depending on the need of the customers such as 100% biodegradable, product that has biodegradable sorbent core, etc. “The product can easily transition into various fields such as manufacturing, marine, mining, automobile sector due to its application capability such as sorbents, wipes,” stated Kendall, Jr.
This scribe has been advocating the use of natural materials for oil sorbents and other industrial applications and is thrilled to see products such as Towelie TM that are coming into the market space.