(Update: 30. October 2020)
Dr. Noureddine Abidi, Professor and Director, Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute (FBRI), Texas Tech University, has won the 2020 Discover Natural Fibres Initiative Innovation Award.
Dr. Abidi has developed a process to produce a plastic substitute from Cotton by dissolving the fibres to form a gel which can be transformed into bioproducts, including plastic films.
“Production of bioplastic films from low micronaire cotton fibers”
One patent has been awarded, which focuses on 3D printing from cellulose gel (US 10,311,993 B2). Two provisional patents are pending which focus on the dissolution of cotton cellulose in ionic liquids and conversion to bioplastic films and other bioproducts.
Cotton fibres are approximately 99% cellulose, and cellulose-derived bioplastics are inherently biodegradable in landfills and composting facilities. Testing shows that when cotton cellulose bioplastic films are buried in soil, decomposition begins in about 3 weeks. However, when these bioplastic films are kept in normal household conditions, they remain stable with no sign of degradation. Therefore, products made from bioplastic film would have properties similar to those of plastics currently in common use.
Several commercial applications are envisioned, including shopping bags, soil covering in agriculture, bioplastic packaging, and other single-use items. This technology can be developed as an inexpensive alternative to petroleum-based plastics currently available on the market, providing a solution to plastic accumulation in the environment. Unlike starch-bioplastics, cotton cellulose has no food value and could create a new niche-market for low-quality cotton fibers.
Dr. Abidi is the Leidigh endowed Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science and Director of the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute at Texas Tech University. He holds a “Habilitation à Diriger les Recherches” from the University of Haute Alsace in France and a Ph.D. from the University of Montpellier II in France. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Fiber Society, the ASTM International, the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Award Ceremony 2020 took place with a limited audience at Texas Tech University and digital as online event on Friday, October 30, 2020.
Download press release: Dr. Noureddine Abidi Win 2020 DNFI Award
Download winning submission: Production of bioplastic films from low micronaire cotton fibers