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Best Paper Awards from IAB Fall 2022

Bringing together the best of both industry and academia is a hallmark of The Nonwovens Institute (NWI).  Located in the heart of the vibrant Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, NWI is an innovative global partnership between industrial practitioners in both the Private and Public sectors and academia resulting in unique opportunities for graduate students across a variety of technical disciplines at the University.  As noted by Dr. Constantine Megaridis located at The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and one of NWI’s extended academic colleagues who led the Institute’s 2020 5-year Review, “Students commented upon the strength of the faculty associated with NWI and the linkage between industrial members of The Institute and their research work.”  Students highlighted that “NWI offers us an opportunity to work with ‘real world’ experts and technical leaders to a far greater degree than our peers.”

One of the most important functions of NWI’s Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) is the review of graduate student projects at its bi-annual meetings.  Here, technical experts from across the industry listen to and provide feedback upon student presentations regarding their research.  Each of the students is also mentored during their studies by at least two industrial or government research practitioners.  Recently, three students were recognized by the IAB for their outstanding work.

BEST PRESENTATION AWARD:  Tara Coia – “Development of Absorbent System Against Chemical Threats”

 Tara received her Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Philadelphia University in 2014, her Master’s Degree in Chemistry from Villanova University in 2019, and her Graduate Certificate in Nonwoven Science and Technology from NCSU in May 2022.  Her presentation focused on exploration of a novel approach to functional nonwovens suitable for enhancing personal protection against chemical agents.

Protection against chemical warfare agents is essential for the preparedness of troops deployed in a range of possible future combat scenarios.  Activated carbon is currently used as a sorbent against such agents in multilayer composites. However, it has a limited service life and a limited capacity of absorption, giving the products a short life span.  In her work, Tara explored the use of Metal Organic Framework (MOF) particles as potential next-generation sorbents against chemical warfare agents, due to their ability to absorb and neutralize the chemical agents.  MOF particles can be attached to fibers and then formed into a functional, nonwoven fabric that would be potentially useful in improved protective garments.

Tara is a student of Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi, Dr. Benoit Maze & Mr. Pierre Grondin of NWI.  Her work supports a customized research and development project which illustrates yet another way interested parties may interact with the Institute.  She receives external mentorship from the project’s sponsor, the US Army Development Capabilities Command Soldier Center (DEVCOM SC) and her work is supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).  Tara has worked in industry for several years as a Chemist and Project Leader at Dunmore; a producer of coated, laminated and metalized films.  She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in the field of Fiber and Polymer Science which she expects to receive later this year.  Tara previously presented her work in 2022 via poster presentations at IDEA® – the World’s Preeminent Event for Nonwovens & Engineered Fabrics, organized by INDA – the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, in Miami Beach, Florida, and also at the Chemical and Biological Defense Science & Technology (CBD S&T) Conference in San Francisco, California. 

BEST TECHNICAL AWARD – Anastasia Timofeeva – “Dynamic, In-Situ Characterization of Failure Modes in Fiber Spinning”

Anastasia received her Bachelor’s of Science in Physics from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 2018 and her ‘Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering Science from Penn State University in 2019.  Her presentation focused upon the development and implementation of a high-speed polarization imaging technique, compilation of a database of fiber polarization states for various materials and processing parameters, and the development and implementation of an automated in-situ process monitoring method for identification of defects (failure modes) in fibers.

Fiber spinning is a complex process in which many material and process parameters can result in undesirable finished product defects.  Polymer fibers undergo flow-induced crystallization that affects the final quality of the fibers and the nonwoven material. Modern, commercial fiber and/ nonwoven manufacturing is a very high-speed process where the continuous monitoring of these parameters and attributes is challenging. The ability to recognize processing irregularities would reduce the downtime for production lines as well as provide in-situ quantitative data that can be used for optimization of production process parameters. Overall, this study can help researchers develop an understanding of why defects occur and relate polymer properties to spinning conditions. In her work, Anastasia is exploring the use of high speed polarized light imaging to measure internal stress fields and the degree of crystallization within the fibers as they are being produced.

Anastasia is a student of Dr. Kara Peters & Dr. Mark Pankow of NCSU’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and is mentored by Dr. Jill Han of Hollingsworth & Vose and Dr. Carl Wust of Indorama Ventures PCL (Retired).  She is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at NWI while pursuing her Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering at NCSU which she anticipates receiving in December 2024.  She plans to present her work at the Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Smart Structures + Nondestructive Evaluation Conference to be held in Long Beach, California in March 2023.

BEST OVERALL AWARD – Pallav Jani – “Fundamental Evaluation of Interaction Between Slip Agents and Hydrophilic Spin Finishes on PP Nonwovens”

Pallav received his Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Technology from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, India and his Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  His presentation focused on the understanding of surface modification of polypropylene (PP) substrates by slip additives and surfactant coatings as well as the impact of their surface interactions on friction and wettability of the nonwoven system.

Nonwovens used in hygiene applications have an ever-increasing set of performance criteria and expectations from consumers.  Fluid transfer to an absorbent core is facilitated by the addition of various surfactants while aesthetics, primarily softness, may be controlled by the addition of other materials often including slip additives.  Depending on whether slip additive-surfactant interactions at the polymer surface are synergistic or not, one can have either desirable control over the frictional and wetting behavior of the material or it can lead to performance issues.  In his work, Pallav seeks to understand the interaction between these additives and how they can impact surface friction (softness) and the wettability of nonwoven fabrics.

Pallav is a student of Dr. Saad Khan and Dr. Lilian Hsiao; both of NCSU’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and is mentored by Mr. Thomas Broch, Dr. Tan Siew Kim and Mr. Daniel Lee Ellingson; all of Fibertex Personal Care.

Pallav is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at NWI while pursuing his Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at NCSU which he anticipates receiving later this year. He previously presented his work in 2022 via poster presentations at the IDEA®22 exhibition and conference held in Miami Beach, Florida, and at the RISE® –   Research, Innovation & Science For Engineered Fabrics Conference held on the NCSU campus in Raleigh, September, 2022.  Both IDEA® and RISE® are organized by INDA – the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry.

NWI, its Leadership, Faculty and Membership congratulates each of these outstanding students and wishes them well in their future endeavors.  “The opportunity for these students to present their work before a group of true academic and industry experts uniquely prepares them for future careers,” said Dr. Raoul Farer, Chairperson of the Industrial Advisory Board’s Executive Committee and Technology Director of Freudenberg Performance Materials in Raleigh.  “As long-time practitioners, we are also energized by interacting with the next generation,” added Dr. DeeAnn (“Dee”) Nelson, Chairperson of NWI’s Strategic Scientific Advisory Board (SSAB) and R&D and Innovation Manager at Avgol Nonwovens; an Indorama Ventures Company.

NWI is the world’s first accredited academic program for the interdisciplinary field of engineered fabrics. Based at the Centennial Campus of NCSU in Raleigh, NWI is an innovative global partnership between industry, government, and academia. NWI has over 45 member companies / organizations spanning the breadth of the Nonwovens value chain.  NWI supports over 30 Masters- and PhD-level students pursuing advanced studies in fiber and polymer science, chemical and bimolecular engineering, wood and paper science, textile engineering, color chemistry and other disciplines.

North Carolina State University is a pre-eminent teaching and research enterprise that excels across disciplines and contributes more than $6.5 billion annually to North Carolina’s economy. More than 37,000 undergraduate and graduate students learn by doing — pursuing original research, starting new companies, forging connections with top employers, and serving local and global communities. NC State’s 9,000 faculty and staff are world leaders in their fields, bridging the divide between academic disciplines and training high-caliber students to meet tomorrow’s challenges. Together, they build powerful partnerships with government, industry, nonprofits and academia to remake our world for the better.

“IDEA®” and “RISE®” are registered trademarks of INDA – the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry.