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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Enhancing Quality, Utility, Sustainability, Environmental Impact of Cotton and Its Byproducts Through Improvement in Harvest/gin Processing

Location: Cotton Ginning Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Develop and/or improve technologies for cotton harvesting and processing that favorably impact energy use, raw fiber processing, fiber quality, and fiber end use. 1A. Improve or enhance fiber quality and end use of Upland Cotton and/or Pima cotton. 1B. Enhance harvesting and raw fiber processing. 1C. Reduce overall gin energy use to produce raw fiber. 2. Develop new and/or improved processing, sensing, and control technologies for superior fiber/seed separation, foreign matter identification and extraction, and accurate measurement and process control of on-line fiber properties to produce a better quality fiber with greater economic value and textile utility properties. 2A. Improve seed cotton foreign matter extraction and fiber/seed separation. 2B. Enhance extraction of non-fiber plant material from ginned lint. 2C. Improve foreign matter identification in ginned lint by use of image analysis techniques. 3. Develop new technologies and alternative uses for cotton ginning equipment, lint, cottonseed, and gin by-products that will increase the value of gin-related products. 3A. Improve value of cottonseed and gin-related co-products. 3B. Develop alternative uses of cotton ginning equipment. 4. Develop new information and/or improve technologies for environmental assessment and remediation to assist ginning and related agricultural industries to comply with safety and environmental regulations. 4A. Assist ginning industry in complying with regulatory standards. 4B. Develop and evaluate abatement technologies and/or management practices for controlling agricultural particulate matter emissions.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1: Advance roller ginning knowledge.
1)by use of high-speed digital video camera to determine geometry of cottonseed and fiber with respect to the stationary knife, rotary knife, and ginning roller as fiber is pulled off the cottonseed at the ginning point with different designs of the stationary and rotary knife, the speed of the rotary knife and ginning roller, and fiber length of different cultivars;.
2)investigate new roller covering materials to find frictional properties that allow fiber to stick to the roller surface and slip on the stationary knife surface and at the same time increase ginning rate;.
3)as determined from earlier studies, at least 4 styles of experimental lint cleaner grid bars will be built/tested on full-size commercial lint cleaner for ability to remove seedcoat fragments and other lint impurities as well as their effect on fiber properties,.
4)develop improved seed cotton reclaimer using an iterative process,.
5)evaluate picker design changes relative to different spindle rotation speeds, spindle diameter and spindle shape, and their effect on picked fiber quality;.
6)develop gin energy consumption model and gin design and operating recommendations based on actual gin operational variables using on-site survey and field electrical energy use data from existing commercial gin plants. 2:.
1)verify seed cotton moisture prediction model over a range more inclusive of target seed-cotton moisture contents and dryer temperatures;.
2)build/validate a system using Ion Mobility Spectrometer instrument to detect contaminating plastics in seed cotton in the lab and then at commercial gin;.
3)conduct initial lab tests using microwave generator and seed cotton of varying moisture content and bulk density levels to see how well electromagnetic waves penetrate bulk seed cotton and remove moisture, also determine pattern of moisture removal;.
4)lab test experimental gin saw tooth designs based on experimental observations for effect on ginned fiber quality;.
5)design/test series of experimental saw lint cleaner grid bars as well as a pneumatic cleaner using no grid bars for their cleaning efficiency and effect on fiber quality;.
5)identification of foreign matter in lint using imaging techniques developed by ARS will be evaluated by AMS relative to manual classing results on selected classing samples. 3:.
1)Crush Pima cottonseed under controlled conditions, separate into meal and oil. Evaluate meal for its value as a dairy feed; oil will be evaluated by cooperators for its bioenergy properties;.
2)an experimental machine based on a saw-type lint cleaner will be designed/tested for ability to process/reclaim waste fiberglass insulation. 4:.
1)conduct large multi-year field testing program at cooperating gin sites to develop PM2.5 emission estimates, develop robust dataset for cotton gin emissions for use in air quality low-level dispersion models, and document errors associated with federal reference method PM10 and PM2.5 stack and ambient sampling methodologies when exposed to ag particulate matter;.
2)experimentally apply gin emission control technology to other ag processes/applications, improve current gin abatement technology.


3.Progress Report:
Cotton fiber quality is at its best in the field, and any step on the path from boll to fabric can impact the final product. Thus, researchers are faced with a unique set of issues at every processing step from harvesting, to ginning, to textile processing, and work on this project focused on addressing these issues to enhance the competiveness of the US cotton industry. Research cooperators included other ARS units, university researchers, industry partners, and state and federal agencies. Starting in the field, cooperative work with New Mexico State University continued on developing cotton with salt and/or drought tolerance. Harvesting research was conducted to evaluate cotton picker harvester spindle sizes to reduce fiber entanglements that affect cotton quality. In the gin, a prototype high-capacity seed-cotton reclaimer, a "bottleneck" limiting roller ginning capacity, was designed and awaits manufacturing by a cooperator. Also, an approach at redesigning the edge of lint cleaner grid bars, the main working unit for removing foreign matter, showed that several new designs could remove seed-coat fragments (which cause problems at the spinning mill) better than current bar designs. Testing of a small-scale electronic dryer revealed needed design improvements that could lead to better cotton moisture management, improving ginning and quality. In-depth analyses of extensive cotton gin on-site energy use data, collected in previous ginning seasons, enabled researchers to identify influences of processing rate, extent of pneumatic conveying, air temperature, and cotton cultivar on energy consumption and brought them one step closer to developing a comprehensive gin energy consumption model. Collaborating with engineers in the Mid-South Area, data was collected to calibrate and verify equations for a system that predicts seed-cotton moisture to allow for better dryer control during ginning. The tests led to instrumentation enhancements and further testing during the upcoming season. Addressing issues outside the gin, researchers cooperated with Oklahoma State University to complete the final season of field work for a national, four-year project to quantify and characterize cotton gin particulate emissions. Lab analyses and data verification and consolidation for the entire study were also completed. Building on successful work with an industry cooperator to apply gin machinery principles to separate fiberglass insulation from paper backing for recycling, further modifications and design enhancements were developed to improve the process. Timely dissemination of information and transfer of technology were accomplished through research reports and presentations at technical meetings, training schools, and gin association meetings. Outreach and education to increase ARS visibility and public awareness of US agriculture were achieved through laboratory tours, ginning demonstrations, and related agriculture and ginning presentations to student groups and the general public. Close and frequent contact with the industry and scientific community was maintained to provide timely, science-based support to cotton and related agricultural industries.


Review Publications
Buser, M.D., Whitelock, D.P., Boykin Jr, J.C., Holt, G.A. 2012. Characterization of cotton gin particulate matter emissions – project plan. Journal of Cotton Science. 16:105-116.

Baker, K.D., Hughs, S.E. 2012. A survey of seed cotton dryers in cotton gins in the southwestern United States. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 28(1):87-97.

Funk, P.A., Hardin IV, R.G. 2012. Cotton gin electrical energy use trends and 2009 audit results. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 28(4):503-510.

Joy, K., Smith, C., Hequet, E., Hughs, S.E. 2012. Extra long staple upland cotton for the production of superior yarn. Crop Science. 52(5):2089-2096.

Funk, P.A., Armijo, C.B., Hawkes, G.M., Libben, J.D. 2012. Cotton thermal defoliation economics. Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. 75(1):29-42.

Whitelock, D.P., Armijo, C.B., Boykin Jr, J.C., Buser, M.D., Holt, G.A., Barnes, E.M., Valco, T.D., Findley, D.S., Waston, M.D. 2011. Beltwide cotton quality before and after lint cleaning. Journal of Cotton Science. 15:282-291.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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