Device Puts More Cotton in the Bale
Normally, about 20 pounds of material is removed from
every 500-pound bale of cotton during a process called lint cleaning.
Unfortunately, more than 10 pounds of good fiber is lost along with
the leaf particles, sticks, stems, seed coat fragments, grass, and bark
removed by lint cleaners. Now a new lint cleaner has been developed
that prevents most of the good fiber from being ejected along with the
foreign matter, increasing the weight of a single bale of cotton after
ginning by about 10 pounds.
The cleaning efficiency of this new device is equal to
that of a standard lint cleaner, and it performed well in field tests
of more than 5,000 bales in a commercial gin during the entire 2002
gin season. Its adoption could help growers increase the value of their
cotton and also find use in separating fibers from other crops, such
as kenaf and flax. A patent for the new lint cleaner has been filed,
and researchers are preparing to demonstrate the device in action to
potential licensees in the near future.
W. Stanley Anthony,
Ginning Research Unit, Stoneville, Mississippi; phone (662) 686-3094.
Beyond PicklesMedicine From Watermelon
Scientists interested in determining the relative amounts of an important
amino acid called citrulline that's present in different watermelon
varieties were recently surprised to find it concentrated in the melons'
rind. Citrulline plays an important role in the body's urea cycle, which
removes nitrogen from the blood and helps convert it to urea that is
excreted in the urine. Disorders in the urea cycle can lead to a lethal
buildup of proteins, such as ammonia, in the bloodstream. That's where
citrulline helps create argininean amino acid involved in the
urea cyclewhich some people produce too little of.
Arginine or citrulline is often recommended to address those, and other,
disorders. Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels
and thus may help treat angina and other cardiovascular problems. It
may also play a role in blood-circulation problems associated with sickle-cell
anemia and has been credited with boosting muscle growth, stimulating
the immune system, improving wound healing, curing impotence, and more.
Researchers' next step will be to see whether the citrulline-arginine
relationship can be exploited to develop rind-based extract or dietary-supplement
products that address arginine- or sickle-cell deficiencies.
Agnes M. Rimando,
Products Utilization Research Unit, Oxford, Mississippi; phone (662)
USDA-ARS South Central Agricultural
Research Laboratory, Lane, Oklahoma; phone (580) 889-7395.
Veggie Oil-Based Hair Care Products
Most of today's hair gels benefit from the holding power of synthetic
polymers. When the gels are applied, the main ingredientwaterevaporates,
leaving a thin film around the hair strands, helping to keep them in
place. Research has shown that it's possible to get the same kind of
hold with lipid compounds derived from soapstock, an underused byproduct
of oilseed processing. These lipid compounds are usually hard to recover
because they degenerate through oxidation and are wasted. Now there's
a way to reclaim the valuable compounds and treat them so that they
maintain their useful properties.
Gels have been created from safflower and soybean soapstocks. Lab tests
show them to work well on a variety of hair types. They would be relatively
inexpensive to produce, since soapstock costs only a fraction of the
price of synthetic polymers. Efforts are under way to find a manufacturer
interested in collaborating on this research.
Myong (Sam) Kuk,
Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, Louisiana; phone (504) 286-4552.
Vitamin K Helps Build Women's Bones
Data from the Framingham Heart Study 1996-2000 suggest that low vitamin
K intake may contribute to lower bone mineral density (BMD) in women.
Researchers measured the BMD of 2,591 men and women aged 29 to 86 and
assessed dietary and supplemental vitamin K intake with a food-frequency
Vitamin K helps certain proteins bind calcium, which is required for
proper bone mineralization. Women with the lowest vitamin K intakes
had significantly lower mean BMD at the femoral neck and spine than
did those with the highest intakes.
Recommended levels of 90 micrograms per day for women and 120 micrograms
for men can be met by consuming adequate amounts of leafy green vegetables
and vegetable-derived oils and spreads.
To locate good sources of vitamin K via the Internet, go to www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp.
There you will find a link to USDA's Standard Reference database, with
instructions for searching by specific food.
Sarah L. Booth,
Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research
Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts; phone
"Science Update" was published in the September
2003 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.