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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research

2005 Annual Report

1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter?
This project focuses on four objectives to increase cotton's use in traditional woven textile markets, and in non-traditional nonwovens, polymers, and composites markets. The objectives are: (1) design and create compounds that afford wovens and nonwovens resiliency in use and protection against open flames and microbial attack; (2) design and create polymer (plastic) modified cotton fibers to enable cotton's use in new technical textiles, such as waterproof microporous membranes (or breathable skins); (3) design and create cotton-derivatives that are water repellent and reactive to explore their uses in making adhesives, coatings, and composites; and (4) eliminate the need, expense, and environmental consequences of yarn sizing (chemical coating on yarn) by improving yarn structure and quality; using natural chemicals found in cotton to effect lubrication; setting the yarn's twist to improve weaving efficiency; and modifying the surfaces of machine components to minimize yarn friction and abrasion in weaving.

Our objectives address the goals of the Strategic Plan of National Program 306, "Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products." Specifically, the project supports Goal 1, Objective 1.1 of the Strategic Plan to "Provide Science-based Knowledge and Technologies to Generate New or Improved High-Quality, Value-Added products and processes to Expand Domestic and Foreigh Markets for Agricultural Commodities." The research supports the program component of natural fibers and materials, under the Commodity Classification Code C2110 and STP Codes (Industrial Processes and Products) and (Fiber Products).

How serious is the problem? This is a very serious problem because we need a concerted program within the Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC), the National Program Staff, and stakeholders to capture inventions and generate value from them through business development. To develop intellectual property generated with cotton, involvement of industry executives are needed to get early innovators and adaptors involved to build momentum to develop inventions and transform them into marketable products.

Why does it matter? Cotton was king in the south until disruptive changes were introduced by polyester, nylon, and other plastic fibers [polyethylene (PEO), and polypropylene (PPO)]. The 30-year U.S. market share (1970-2000) for cellulose fibers decreased from 43 to 8% of all fibers consumed (Chem. & Eng. News, 5-15-00, p.25), and composite formulators avoid using cotton in composites citing incompatibility of cotton with metals and plastics (Polym. Mater. Enc., 1996, Vol. C, Wiley, 1079). This trend can be reversed by successful fulfillment of the objectives in this research project, forging alliances with forward thinking cotton industry executives, appropriation of intellectual property developed with cotton, and generating an industry structure that brings new inventions into competitive markets. Consequently, the effort will enable the cotton industry, generators of the starting material, cotton, to create, capture, and deliver value to consumers through inventions made at SRRC.

2.List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan.
Sub-Objective 1.1 Syntheses of oligomeric anhydrides, dibromide polymers, CM cotton salts, phosphonates, and inorganic phosphates. Sub-objective 1.1.2 Characterization of new polymer/cotton nonwoven composites. Sub-Objective 1.2 Characterization of new polymer/cotton composites. Sub-Objective 2.1 Cycloaddition of benzyl cotton and PEO/PPO co-polymers. Sub-Objective 2.2 Characterization of structural, thermal, and solutio properties of new cyclo-polymers and cotton-derivative/cyclo-polymer blend. Sub-Objective 2.3 Development of breathable fabrics. Sub-Objective 3.1 Adjust functional groups of cotton with: amines, butyl ethers, benzyl ethers, hydroxyls and methoxy-ethoxy-methyl groups. Sub-Objective 3.2 Characterization of structural, thermal, mechanical, and biological properties of the new cotton-derived polymers. (To be done in conjunction with 3.1.). Sub-Objective 3.3 Explore and explain the curing behavior of pre-polymers and characterize the cotton-based thermosets and composites. Sub-Objective 3.4. Explore formulations of cotton-based thermosets for end-use applications. Sub-Objective 4.1. Production of 100% cotton yarn for size-free weaving. Sub-Objective 4.2. Determination of the best technique to prepare a loom beam. without the traditional sizing. Evaluate the technique through weaving trials on a modern high-speed weaving machine. Sub-Objective 4.3. Determine the effect of special coatings on critical loom components, (e.g., reed, heedless, and dropwires) on weaving performance. Sub-Objective 4.4. Evaluation of quality of the fabric produced without the traditional warp sizing ( i.e., sub-objectives 4.2 & 4.3). Sub-Objective 4.5. Explore the feasibility and commercial scope of sizeless weaving for other classical types of fibers, yarns, fabrics, and weaving conditions.

4a.What was the single most significant accomplishment this past year?
Size-free weaving was achieved. For the first time size-free weaving was shown to be feasible on high speed weaving machines using long fiber cotton (called Acala) rotor spun yarn stabilized with a high torque (or twisting force). This project develops methods to prepare warp yarns without sizing agents (chemical coatings on yarn) and prepares textile machinery to effect high speed size-free weaving. About 70% of cotton produced worldwide (~16 billion kg, 75 million bales) is used in woven fabrics and warp yarns are the major components therein. These yarns are coated (sized) with expensive chemicals during preparation, and later, the woven fabrics are desized (chemicals are removed). Both processes (sizing and desizing) add to costs and environmental concerns. By eliminating them we expect to significantly enhance the use and competitiveness of cotton.

4b.List other significant accomplishments, if any.
Two New Epoxy Phosphonate flame-retardants for cotton were prepared. For the first time two epoxy phosphonate crosslinkers were prepared, completely characterized, and formulated to afford flame resistance to treated fabrics regardless of their construction, plain weave, twill, fleece, or nonwoven. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data were provided to afford structural proof of the new compounds. Degradation data on the new monomers were acquired by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and curing data with formulations comprising the epoxy phosphonates were obtained by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) so formulations for fabric treatments could be applied without marring the fabrics. Limiting oxygen indices showed that the treated fabrics needed greater than 26% oxygen in nitrogen to sustain a small candle like flame in the testing apparatus. It should be noted that air at ambient conditions contains about 18% oxygen. Vertical flame test data using standard tests developed by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM D-6413-99) showed that treated plain weave, twill, and fleece fabrics self extinguished within 0-1 sec and showed no after-glow.

4c.List any significant activities that support special target populations.

4d.Progress report.
A subordinate project was established through a Specific Cooperative Agreement between ARS and the Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, 6435-41000-094-01S, entitled, "Comprehensive Mechanical Engineering Analyses of the Crictical Components of Weaving Process Toward Achieving Size-Free Weaving." This agreement creates a post-doctoral position to mechanically analyze yarns prepared without the use of coatings (sizing agents) and to study their weaving performance.

5.Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.
Predicted accomplishments for each objective over the life of the project are summarized below. (1) Success in objective 1 will afford: (a) Novel fibers for flame resistant (FR) highlofts and barrier linings; (b) Crosslinkers that provide woven fabrics that have permanent press protection and dimensional stability; and (c) Plastics that graft or entangle cotton nonwovens for enhanced dimensional stability, allow heat printing, and protect against attack by microbes and flame. (2) Success in Objective 2 will afford blended cotton fibers that are elastic so that technical textiles like Gore-Tex can be produced. (3) Success in Objective 3 will afford new cotton-based plastics for the development of adhesives, and load bearing building materials. (4) Success in Objective 4 will afford new knowledge and technologies about sizeless weaving.

The developing of the envisioned products will have significant impact on the cotton industry. The formulation of flame-resistant cotton fabrics will open potentially new large markets to cotton fibers that are currently being filled by synthetics. Technical cottons (water repelling cottons, flexible cotton-based fibers, cotton-based adhesives, etc.) will also add to potential markets. The development of size-less weaving processes will eliminate two processing steps that are currently necessary, whereby reducing processing costs and reducing the environmental impact of weaving. The incorporation of cotton into non-wovens products has the potential to impact several large downstream industries from automobile manufacturers to medical textile processors.

The above accomplishments relate to the National Program 306, "Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products." Specifically, the project supports Goal 1, Objective 1.1 of the Strategic Plan to "Provide Science-Based Knowledge and Technologies to Generate New or Improved High-Quality, Value-Added products and processes to Expand Domestic and Foreigh Markets for Agricultural Commodities."

6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
Many presentations were made worldwide on new flame retardant crosslinking agents for cotton, silver containing antimicrobial gauzes, at national and international meeting attended by farmers, industrial representatives, and scientists in academia and industry.

Furthermore, many industrial representatives visited SRRC to consult and understand the sizefree weaving work and the flame resistant and antimicrobial non-wovens work.

7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).

Review Publications
Parikh, D.V., Fink, T.J., Rajasekaran, K., Sachinvala, N.D., Sawhney, A.P., Calamari Jr, T.A., Parikh, A.D. 2005. Antimicrobial silver/sodium carboxymethyl cotton dressings for burn wounds. Textile Research Journal. v. 75. p. 134-138.

Kamath, M.G., Bhat, G.S., Parikh, D.V., Mueller, D. 2005. Cotton fiber nonwovens for automotive composites. International Journal of Nonwovens. V. 75. p. 134-138.

Sawhney, A.P., Singh, V., Sachinvala, N.D., Pang, S., Calamari Jr, T.A., Li, G. 2005. Mechanical analysis of weaving process towards size-free weaving. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. CD-ROM. p. 2706-2611.

Radhakrishnaiah, P., Sawhney, A.P. 2005. Nanotechnology opens new routes for the functional finishing of cotton-rich textiles. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. CD-ROM. p. 2626-2638.

Chang, S., Sachinvala, N.D., Prevost, N.T., Parikh, D.V., Sawhney, A.P., Lambert, A.A., Grimm, C.C., Jarrett, W.J. 2005. A new epoxy bis-phosphonate crosslinker for cotton. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. CD-ROM. p. 583-584.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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