The age-old cotton plant is going through a number of transformations that are creating demand beyond cotton’s traditional use in apparel and home furnishings, according to Cotton Incorporated CEO Berrye Worsham, speaking before producers at the Cotton and Rice Conservation Tillage Conference in Baton Rouge, La.

Here are few examples:

Home insulation made out of your old blue jeans. In Phoenix, Ariz., an innovative company is turning used denim cotton jeans into home insulation. Those old, cherished blue jeans are collected shredded, bundled into huge bales, processed and shaped into a high quality insulation. It’s a transformation that has captured national attention.

Gossypol-free cottonseed. At Texas A&M, College Station, Texas, a team of researchers is working on removing gossypol from cottonseed to expand its feed usage. Currently, cottonseed with gossypol can be fed only to cows — whose unique stomachs allow them to digest it. But using genetic engineering, scientists have developed a new variety of cotton plant with no gossypol in its seed. It opens a huge resource for cottonseed in human nutrition, directly as food or indirectly as feed for poultry and pork.

Oil spill cleanup. In Milwaukee, Wis., a company transforms raw cotton fiber into oil-absorbent booms and pads. The product is natural and sustainable and was recently put to the test in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. The product performed to everyone’s expectations.

Cotton as packing material. In New York, a company blends cotton trash with the roots of mushrooms to grow a product called EcoCradle, which performs like Styrofoam. It grows in just one week and is a very energy- and water-efficient process. The result is a packing material for packing furniture or electronics that is all natural. When you’re through with the product, you can break it up and toss it on your garden. It will break down in a few months.

Conductive cotton. At Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., cotton researchers are using nano technology to coat cotton threads with microscopic particles enabling the fabric to conduct electricity. Conductive yarns can be woven into clothing for sensing heart rate and create color without the use of dyes. So a black dress can change color with the flip of a switch.

Cotton as a mulch. In Center, Ala., cotton trash is turned into high-quality mulch which is sprayed onto landscaping projects to prevent erosion.