Nonwovens are often associated with disposables like diapers, wipes or feminine hygiene items and these products do represent a large percentage of nonwovens sales globally. However, there are literally hundreds of applications outside of hygiene, many are opening up new doors for nonwovens in never-before-penetrated markets.
In fact, growth of durables nonwovens is outpacing that of disposables. According to INDA, in North America durable nonwovens sales are growing about 4.5% while disposables are pretty flat. This growth is being driven by geotextiles, which are being used in a lot of government-sponsored infrastructure improvement projects, as well as in the rebounding automotive market and to some extent the construction market—although this segment has been hard hit by a low rate of housing starts.
Meanwhile, new markets for nonwovens ranging from battery separators to flame retardant bedding to insulation in home appliances are making waves, expanding the scope of nonwovens globally and leading to new investments across the globe.
DuPont’s Energain battery separators are based on nanofiber polymeric technology, a product DuPont is so bullish about it is building a new facility in Chesterfield County, VA to make them. The technology can increase power 15-30%, increase battery life by up to 20% and improve battery separator safety by providing stability at high temperatures. With more battery power, drivers can travel further on a single charge and accelerate more quickly and safely. DuPont expects these materials to be used initially in hybrid and electric vehicle batteries but the technology will eventually be targeted toward batteries, renewable energy, grid applications and specialty consumer applications including laptops, cell phones and power tools.
A new category of nonwoven media that filters water with the efficiency of a membrane but at a higher flow rate and significantly less pressure drop is being sold under the Disruptor brand name by Ahlstrom. This commercially available product line of electroadsorptive filter media improve water quality through a natural positive charge that is effective in both fresh and brackish water at removing submicron contaminants.
In July, Ahlstrom partnered with Eureka Forbes to launch a clean water product, sold under the AquaSure brand name. AquaSure removes all three types of contaminants from water—physical, chemical and microbiological—without the use of any chemicals and hence, gives not just microbiologically pure but safe drinking water.
Typar Geocells is a cellular confinement system for Earth and water manufactured by roll goods maker Fiberweb. This heavy duty and geotextile fabric cell is made from a three-dimensional honeycomb design, which allows for custom sizes, configuration and adaptability to a variety of terrains. When filled with a ballast material such as sand, stones, all soil types, mulch or other material, Typar Geocells is lightweight, durable and easy to install.
Typar Geocells were recently tested by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center (ERDC) at their Coastal and Hydraulic Lab (CHL) in Vicksburg, MS. This test, which evaluates a system’s ability to withstand a variety of flood-related conditions, shows that Typar Geocells outperforms traditional sandbags in all tests performed – including time to install, seepage, time to remove, and overall endurance. Typar Geocells also have significant advantages over other flood control products in some key areas as well. This impressive performance illustrates that Typar Geocells are a highly effective choice for flood control. “The recent testing performed by ERDC reinforces the positioning of Typar Geocells as one of the most effective systems in the market to fight floods,” said Brian Whitaker P.E., CPESC, technical sales manager for
Composed of a durable, nonwoven fabric in a honeycomb configuration, Typar Geocells is three-dimensional and can be filled onsite to produce a stable, self-supported flood fighting structure. Typar Geocells is lightweight and easy to construct but also strong, rugged and able to withstand differing heights of flood water.All the components needed to construct the confinement system can be transported to the site in a sports utility vehicle and deployed without the use of heavy mechanical handling equipment.