Gajanan Bhat, Ph.D.
Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors, The University of Georgia
BIOGRAPHYAfter earning his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in textile and polymer engineering, Dr. Bhat joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) in August 1990, where his research covered nonwovens - melt blown, spunbonded and biodegradable, plastics recycling, nanotechnology, sustainable materials, and high performance fibers. As the director of UTNRL he demonstrated successful production of nanofibers from thermoplastic polymers by meltblowing. In July 2016, he joined UGA as the Head of the Textiles and Merchandising and Interiors (TMI) department. Dr. Bhat has published more than 200 research papers, has three US Patents and has made more than 250 national or international presentations. He has served as the president of the Fiber Society and is also an active member of INDA, TAPPI and the Textile Institute. In addition to conducting research in the area of nonwovens since 1984, Dr. Bhat has taught nonwoven courses at UTK, and was involved in developing and teaching the introductory nonwovens training course with INDA. He has also been part of the nonwovens tutorial and INTC and TAPPI NET conferences. Some of the awards/recognitions he has received include:
• Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni by Georgia Tech (1996)
• Distinguished Achievement Award from the Fiber Society (1999)
• Fellow of the Textile Institute (2005)
• TechniTex India Research Achievement Award (2008)
• TAPPI NET division Technical Achievement Award (2014).
2:40 pm - 3:40 pm
Sustainable Polymers and Fibers for Nonwovens: Current Status and Future Potential
Over the past three decades, consumption of nonwoven products has grown at the rate of almost 10% per year. This tremendous growth has been due to their ease of manufacture, higher processing speeds, and ability to produce fabrics with a range of properties at a lower cost. Nonwoven fabrics possess specific characteristics such as strength, stretch, resilience, absorbency, liquid repellency, softness, flame-retardancy, cushioning, washability, filtering, bacterial barrier and sterility. Whereas polypropylene and other synthetic polymers and fibers are the most used, there is interest in alternate materials, especially those that are biodegradable/compostable. Since majority of the nonwoven products have shorter life cycle, they end up in municipal waste causing environmental challenges. As the concern for environmental pollution is increasing, there is growing interest in sustainable products by both the consumers and the industry.
There has always been effort to use natural fibers and environmentally friendly synthetics. However their market penetration has been limited due to some challenges in achieving performance at a lower cost. Synthetic polymers and fibers such as polypropylene had the advantage of lower cost, easy processability and ability to manufacture products with desired performance Lately, availability of newer resins and fibers and their cost competitiveness has opened more opportunities for alternate polymers and fibers. It has been demonstrated that these alternative materials can be successfully converted into useful products with performance properties comparable to or better than that of the currently used materials. Results from some these research and the changing trends moving forward will be discussed. Also, future prospects for such products in this changing environments will be presented.