Research and Development Leading to Cotton Innovations
Cotton Incorporated research and development goes beyond cotton fiber in exploring uses for the entire cotton plant in commercially viable—if, perhaps, unexpected—products:
Though cotton is well known as an apparel and home textile fiber, more and more it is being used in unusual, yet beneficial applications. One such case is spray-on hydromulch.Cotton Incorporated collaborated with the USDA’s ARS and Mulch & Seed Innovations Centre, AL, to develop two all-natural cotton-fiber mulch products that help control soil erosion until grass or other vegetation can take root. The GeoSkin™, GeoSkin and HydraCX2 is a trademark of Mulch & Seed Innovations, LLC. cotton hydromulch is ideal for level construction zones, while HydraCX2® is optimal for steep roadside projects.
The cotton ginning process creates 2.5 million tons of bio-mass each year. These spray mulches come from turning this waste into something practical. The deep green hydromulches are hydraulically applied. And since cotton is, by nature, porous, absorbent and biodegradable, it absorbs adequate amounts of moisture so vegetation can establish quickly and control erosion from heavy wind and rain.
The ARS tested the cotton hydromulches against commercial erosion control blankets made of wood, paper and synthetics. The results showed the cotton products performed better in preventing runoff and required significantly less labor.
The products are marketed with the highly recognized Seal of Cotton™, providing consumers with an immediate trust of the product. And the products have established another revenue source and increased demand for cotton.
Biodegradable Packaging Material
Cotton Incorporated collaborated with Ecovative Design, a sustainable material science company, to create Mushroom® Materials—naturally grown, 100% biodegradable packaging. The high-performance packaging can be molded like synthetic foam, is cost competitive and environmentally responsible as it can be composted after usage.Ecovative produces two packaging materials—Myco Foam and Myco Board. Their low-energy manufacturing process starts with agricultural waste, such as cotton burrs, from crop production. This substrate is cleaned and combined with a mushroom component called mycelium, which is the fine white filament produced during the vegetative growth stage of fungi.
The mycelium strands intertwine and reach out toward the substrates. They break down the tough compounds and form a matrix. Ecovative refers to this as a mushroom material. That material is broken up, then packed and sealed into molds, where the material takes on the form of the mold.
It is currently being used by a number of companies—from Dell, for their sensitive hard drives, to Puma, for their limited edition stand-up paddle boards. And Ecovative recently partnered with Sealed Air Corp., a global packaging solutions leader, to bring the product to customers around the world.
Sustainable Wall Covering
Just as cotton has the ability to absorb water, so too can it absorb heat and sound. That’s why it is the main component in the sustainable wall finish from JaDecor Natural Wallcovering.The JaDecor product is used in both residential and commercial applications for its ability to decrease everyday noises like planes or barking dogs, as well as its capacity to promote fuller sound in concert halls.
When the Chicago-based testing facility Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories tested JaDecor’s sound absorbency properties using the Reverberation Room Method, it was assigned an impressive .15 Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC).
JaDecor also works as an insulation, providing warmth to any interior space.The product is made from a mixture of natural cotton fibers and minerals. It is not sold at retail, and must be hand-troweled onto walls by a certified installer.
JaDecor is environmentally safe as well as customizable. The wallcovering also has a low carbon footprint since it is sourced from U.S. cotton.