Seshadri Ramkumar

COVID-19 crisis shines bright spotlight on textile industry 

Posted November 12, 2020


By Seshadri Ramkumar


LUBBOCK, Texas – No other time than the present has the spotlight shined so much on textiles for its role in saving lives.


Textile materials’ capability to filter and destabilize SARS-CoV-2 is attracting a lot of attention, as well as sustainable fibers such as cotton for many advanced applications.


Coimbatore, India-based Bharathiar University organized a seven-day international virtual conference to highlight the functional and environmental impacts of textiles. About 300 people have registered for the event, which has speakers from Hong Kong, Finland, the United States, India and Ireland.


It was such a pleasure for me to offer a few words of special address on textiles as lifesavers this morning, albeit the wee hours (4 a.m. CST). While inaugurating the event, Prof. P. Kaliraj, vice chancellor of Bharathiar University emphasized the importance of textiles to developing nations and also its environmental and societal impacts.


I introduced the four Es towards textile sustainability, taking into consideration the current coronavirus situation. In my opinion, sustainability has to take into account: 1) Environment; 2) Energy; 3) Economy and 4) Employment. The textile sector has to forge ahead looking at interdisciplinary approaches to develop value-added sustainable products such as viral barrier, medical filters, etc.


Prof. Venkatachalam Arunachalam, a highly respected academic with 42 years of research and teaching experience in the Coimbatore area, who participated in the event, said, “The materials sector should look into cotton and other fibers to develop cost-effective advanced products that can save lives and protect the environment.”


The conference will feature topics such as, lifesaving cotton products, fashion in circular economy, consumer preferences for ecofriendly products and lifecycle analysis, to name a few.

It is certain that even with a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2, masks are going to play an important role. And, as such, the textile sector has a useful role to play both in the current pandemic as well in the future towards the safety of human beings and the planet.


Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D, FTA (honorary), is a professor at the Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech.

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