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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research

2007 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Design and create molecules that afford nonwovens resiliency in use and protection against open flames and microbial attack; design and prepare cotton-based polymer systems compatible with elastomers to generate new binary fibers and waterproof breathable membranes to make the products more useful as technical textiles; design and create cotton-derivatives that are water repellent and reactive with epoxies, isocyanates, and inorganic materials and explore their uses in making adhesives, coatings, and composites; and eliminate the need for sizing warp yarn for weaving.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The project will pursue research along four avenues. The first deals with generating molecules that impart dimensional stability and flame and microbial resistance to cotton, so that the new cotton derived materials pass or surpass in-use, stability, non-flammability, and antimicrobial test standards, as well as gain industrial acceptance. The second deals with polymer modified cotton fibers to enable cotton's use in new technical textiles, such as waterproof microporous membranes. The third searches for new water-repellent cotton derivatives that are reactive with epoxies, isocyanates, and inorganic materials for uses in adhesives, coatings, and composites. The fourth avenues focuses on eliminating sizing agents in warp yarn preparation to make weaving and textile operations efficient by creating reduced friction machine parts.

3.Progress Report
This Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research project is also the parent project of three Specific Cooperative Agreements: Louisiana State University, 6435-41000-094-01S, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (6435-41000-094-03S) and Fleissner GMBH & Company (6435-41000-094-04S). Due to limited space in Question 3, details of specific research and accomplishments can be found in the individual reports for the subordinate projects. Although the aftermath of destructive Hurricanes Katrina and Rita considerably damaged the research center and consequently affected the research, adequate progress continued to properly meet the research obligations of this project i.e., size-free weaving (terminated in 2007) and cotton-based nonwovens (redirected to a new project). In case of the size-free weaving, it has been experimentally established that the size-free weaving of cotton yarns at least is mechanically feasible for certain fabric types and constructions. Abrasion of warp yarns during the weaving process (especially, in the reed-sweep zone) seems to be the most vital factor influencing the weaving efficiency and fabric quality. Various research avenues were (partially) pursued to minimize the warp yarn abrasion, which, however, still remains a complex, serious problem. Since the weaving process is costly, complex, and time consuming, efforts were made to develop a lab-scale instrument called yarn endurance tester, to quantitatively assess the relative abrasion resistance of a yarn subjected to weaving-like attrition. A prototype version of the instrument is operational at Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, Louisiana—an ARS research collaborator.

Feasibility of Weaving Cotton Yarns without the Centuries-old Tradition of Sizing Warp Yarns: The warp sizing is complex, and environmentally sensitive. Continued research efforts to eliminate warp sizing have demonstrated that size-free weaving of cotton yarns is mechanically feasible for certain types of yarns and fabrics. However, the quality of a size-free woven fabric remains a serious concern due to presence of numerous, minor defects that most likely are caused by abrasion of the yarns, especially in the reed-sweep zone. Fully successful size-free weaving will have a significant positive impact on the value-added utilization of cotton, worldwide. The research addresses Action Plan Component 2 (natural fibers and materials; C2110 STP4.1.1.6, of NP 306.

Development of Predominately Cotton-Based Nonwoven Products for Textile and Other Applications: Cotton fiber has been gradually losing its market share in the U.S.'s domestic textile manufacturing industry. The main reason for the said loss is economics, i.e., due to the international competitiveness. To revive value-added consumption of cotton by the U.S., cotton fabrics must be produced more efficiently and considerably less-expensive, compared to the imports. One way of efficiently and cost-effectively producing fibrous structures is by adopting the so-called nonwovens technologies, which can convert fibers or polymer chips into continuous fabric-like fibrous structures at a production rate that is an order of magnitude faster than that of the existing weaving and knitting technologies. However, so far, adoption of nowovens technologies to produce cotton-based textiles has not been fully explored, presumably due to viable technical difficulties. New research that is primarily focused on utilization of cotton fiber is expected to yield good dividends. Accordingly, establishment of a modern, state-of-the-art nonwovens facility at the Southern Regional Research Center, New Orleans, has been thoroughly searched and now finalized for conducting the vitally needed research in nonwovens. The research serves Action Plan Component 2 (natural fibers and materials; C2110 STP4.1.1.6, of NP 306.

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations

6.Technology Transfer

Number of active CRADAs and MTAs1
Number of invention disclosures submitted1
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings5

Review Publications
Parikh, D.V., Bresee, R.R., Sachinvala, N.D., Crook, L., Muenstermann, U., Watzl, A., Gillespie, D. 2006. Basis weight uniformity of needled and needled/hydroentangled webs containing cotton. Textile Research Journal. (1):1. p. 1-15.

Parikh, D.V., Chen, Y. 2007. Reducing automotive interior noise with natural fiber nonwoven fiber covering systems. Textile Research Journal. 76(11). p. 813-820.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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