Absorboost: Cellulosic Superabsorbent Polymer (C-SAP) (Pilot Scale System)

This project aims to develop a pilot scale system for larger amount production of Absorboost with capacity over 1 kg per day. Absorboost is a bio-friendly cellulosic superabsorbent polymer (C-SAP) developed from cotton textile waste, using the Green Machine through hydrothermal treatment. Based on the result from our phase I study and our on-site trial in India, it is verified that Absorboost has huge absorbency and liquid-retaining property to maintain high soil moisture under drought conditions. 

The objectives of this pilot scale project include:

  1. Research and select the type of crosslinking equipment for the pilot scale system and establish the system.
  2. Produce Absorboost using the pilot scale system.
  3. Explore the feasibility of introducing fertilizer (NPK – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) into Absorboost, which will result in a bi-functional C-SAP in that both water and fertilizer can be released to soil under drought conditions.
  4. Explore the possibility of broader application of the technology to other cellulosic waste (e.g. linen waste) as the raw material of Absorboost, apart from cotton waste that had been studied in phase I.
  5. Investigate the economics for demonstrating the feasibility of production.
  6. Provide samples to potential industrial and agricultural users for evaluation.

  • Absorboost can be applied in both rain-fed and drip irrigation of cotton farming. It is placed in soil to absorb and retain rain or irrigation water. When drought or simply dry conditions prevail, water is released from Absorboost to the soil around the roots of the cotton, thus providing moisture for its growth throughout the cycle of cotton growth.
  • Absorboost at the end will undergo biodegradation, leaving no trace in the soil.
Industry Benefit
  • Trial is now on-going in Karnataka, India. As the largest cotton producing country in the world, the result of the pilot scale can further benefit local farming and trade as it is an agricultural aid to secure stable yields and cotton supply.
  • The success of the pilot scale project can further promote textile recycling, stabilise cotton yields, and offer an eco-friendly alternative to petrochemical-based superabsorbent polymer.
Technological Breakthrough

Identifying the parameters of the optimal dose of Absorboost under rain-fed and drip irrigation of cotton farming and preparing further industrial up-scale of the production of Absorboost under the collaboration with Shahi, India's largest exporter of ready-made garments, and University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad.

Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards 2023 - Honourable Mention
2023 Just Style Excellence Awards - Category Winner - Environment (Sustainability)
Project Name (ITF)
Development of a Pilot Scale System for the Production of (Fertilizer-containing) Cellulosic Superabsorbent Polymer (SAP)
Project Number (ITF)