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IFAI members supply oil boom containment materials
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May '10
More than 60 members of the Industrial Fabrics Association International are preparing products for clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following the April 20 explosion of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The oil gusher at the source of the spill, located 5,000 feet below the ocean surface and about 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast, is emitting an estimated minimum of 210,000 gallons of oil per day with a possible maximum of more than 10 times that amount. Attempts to contain the spill and protect shoreline are in effect at several staging areas in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Textiles and containment
Fabric components play a crucial role in oil containment efforts. Oil skimmers made of PVC separate oil from the surface of a body of water. Geotextiles and PVC-coated fabric are options for creating turbidity curtains, which can prevent oil from spreading. Hanesbrands Inc., Winston Salem, N.C., donated a less technical solution--50,000 pairs of pantyhose--for making booms filled with human and pet hair to absorb and trap the oil.

A more traditional containment tool manufactured using PVC or urethane is the oil containment boom, which creates a floating barrier to contain oil and protect shoreline. More than one million feet of containment boom has been deployed to the GOM site.

IFAI members supply oil boom containment materials
Several IFAI members are providing materials and equipment for oil boom containment production to help meet the growing demand for booms. Miller Weldmaster manufactures machines that produce oil booms and has increased supplies of these machines for immediate use at the GOM site. "The requests we are getting for production are for hundreds of miles of product," says Jeff Sponseller, executive vice president of Miller Weldmaster, Navarre, Ohio. Three T-300 machines can produce a combined total of 675 feet of oil boom per hour.

"Value Vinyls is supplying tens of thousands of feet of 22-ounce coated vinyl to boom manufacturers, as well as securing additional capacity to prepare and ship hundreds of thousands of feet for these new and urgent requests," says Randy Busch, President of Value Vinyls, Grand Prairie, Texas.

Cooley Specialty Products, Pawtucket, R.I., also designs specialty fabrics specifically for oil booms. "Critical applications such as maritime spill containment require materials that will stand up to rough weather and harsh climates," says Darius Shirzadi, business manager at Cooley. Cooley products for oil booms include Coolthane thermoplastic urethane, Coolguard 24-ounce with DuPont Elvaloy and Coolguard HRL 35-ounce membrane with Elvaloy.

A new textile to the rescue - Texas Tech's Fibertect
Seshadri Ramkumar, associate professor of nonwoven materials at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), says that the same Texas Tech-created nonwoven cotton wipe technology that keeps soldiers safe from chemical and biological warfare agents may also serve as the perfect sponge for sopping up oil that has polluted the Gulf of Mexico.

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