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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: VALUE ADDED AND HIGH-VOLUME COTTON PRODUCTS AND PROCESSES Title: Future of Cotton in Nonwovens

Authors
item Sawhney, Amar
item Condon, Brian

Submitted to: Textile Asia: The Asian Textile and Apparel Monthly
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 15, 2008
Publication Date: November 1, 2008
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Condon, B.D. 2008. Future of Cotton in Nonwovens. Textile Asia: The Asian Textile and Apparel Monthly. 39(11-12):13-15.

Interpretive Summary: Mainly because of its unique structure and, hence, its quite a few desirable attributes, cotton has been an extremely popular textile fiber for thousands of years and is expected to be so for the generations to come. Although cotton’s global market share has been declining since the advent of synthetic and regenerated manufactured fibers a few decades ago, its overall production and utilization worldwide have been steadily rising with the increasing world population and the latter’s improving life style. The cotton production worldwide today is ~110 million bales per annum, compared to ~60 million bales just a few decades ago. The U.S. alone produced about 22 million bales of cotton in 2006, although its production in 2007 was much less (~17 million bales). The global demographics of cotton textile manufacturing have shifted considerably, mainly due to the global economics and competitiveness. Just a few decades ago, the U.S. was one of the largest, if not the largest, cotton producers, users and consumers in the world. Today, the traditional U.S. textile manufacturing industry, comprised of spinning, weaving, knitting, and fabric finishing, has shrunk to less than half of what it was about two decades ago. Hundreds of U.S. textile mills have closed or moved abroad and thousands of mill jobs have been lost. In order to improve the high-volume and high-value utilization of cotton globally and especially in the U.S, it is imperative that the cotton industry develops some new strategies. This article briefly explores one of those strategies. And that is to scientifically explore feasibility of increased utilization of cotton in the nonwovens sector. However, use of cotton in nonwoven textile products today is almost negligible. This article briefly describes why cotton thus far has not been considered an economical and commercially viable fiber for the nonwoven products and what makes the fiber now so attractive for nonwovens manufacturing industries. A few fundamental research and development approaches and production methodologies for using especially greige/virgin cotton are discussed.

Technical Abstract: Although cotton offers several positive attributes, such as absorbency of liquids, dyeability, transportation and dissipation of moisture for wear comfort, static-freedom, sustainability, biodegradability and bioconsumability, and the like, its use in nonwoven products has been minimal. In order to improve the high-volume and high-value utilization of cotton globally and especially in the U.S, it is imperative that the cotton industry develops some new strategies. This article briefly explores one of those strategies. And that is to scientifically explore feasibility of increased utilization of cotton in the nonwovens sector. The article briefly describes why cotton thus far has not been considered an economical and commercially viable fiber for the nonwoven products and what makes the fiber now so attractive for nonwovens manufacturing industries. A few fundamental research & development approaches and production methodologies for using especially greige/virgin cotton are discussed.

Last Modified: 11/24/2014
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