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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCED COTTON QUALITY THROUGH MEASUREMENT AND PROCESSING RESEARCH
2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Assess the impact of newly developed varieties, agronomic practices, and ginning practices upon fiber and yarn quality.

2. Develop methods for the determination of cotton fiber frictional properties and their relationship to fiber convolutions, fiber maturity, metal content, wax and pectin content, and sugar content, with the aim of improving the understanding of factors affecting processing efficiency (roughly defined as the ratio of theoretical processing time vs. real processing time), utilizing state-of-the-art processing equipment.

3. Develop a new generation of instrumental methods and improve existing methods for the assessment of cotton fiber and yarn quality characteristics.

4. Develop fiber quality measurements and standards for flax fibers in order to efficiently assess quality characteristics of resultant short staple blends with cotton and in non-woven applications for composite materials.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Cottons produced under a variety of commercial/experimental conditions will be studied using modern manufacturing procedures. Genetic, agronomic and ginning variables will be correlated with textile processing performance in cooperation with collaborators (40% of effort). Chemical and microbiological properties of cotton will be studied for their effects on processing performance, yarn-fabric quality, worker safety and environment contamination (25%). Measurements of color, leaf, trash and contaminants will be improved for better prediction of processing performance and yarn fabric quality (20%). Reference test methods for strength and other High Volume Instrumentation (HVI) measurements will be developed-implemented (15%). Research will focus on improved predictive relationships between processing performance and yarn fabric quality over and above those obtained by using traditional measures of length, strength, color, fineness and trash by identifying developing rapid measurements of other important fiber properties. These measurements will be adapted for use in classification and marketing.


3.Progress Report
With the cost of cotton currently at near record highs, there has been a great deal of interest in using waste fiber generated at the cotton gin (termed gin motes) to blend with normal cotton to improve cost savings for the textile producer. Three grades of commercial gin motes were obtained from the ARS Ginning Lab in Stoneville. Blending, cleaning and spinning protocols were optimized to demonstrate that high quality ring- and rotor-spun yarns could be produced using conventional processing equipment with up to thirty percent of motes blended with the cotton. A methodology to determine the efficiency of blending motes with cotton was developed by which a chemical tag is adhered to the mote fiber and subsequently analyzed at various stages of yarn processing. Results indicate that nearly 100% of the spinnable fiber present in the gin motes is incorporated into the resultant yarn, and that the fiber is furthermore spread homogeneously throughout the yarn. An improved method of measuring the diameter of flax fiber was developed using a piece of specialized software along with a standard computer and slide scanner. This method involves the measurement and analysis of two dimensional projections of fibers using image analysis software in the longitudinal plane to determine the arithmetic mean and its standard deviation, median, and numerical distribution of the fiber widths. A simple mathematical model that utilizes three separate spectral wavelength intervals was developed to determine fiber maturity (degree of cell wall development). The method requires minimal sample preparation, permits routine analysis in both laboratory and field environments, and is easy to operate. ARS researchers at the Cotton Quality Research Station in Clemson, SC have addressed length measurement issues using a piece of specialized equipment (Peyer Almeter AL100) that has been modified and improved via computer control. This measurement system converts the span length distribution into a complete fiber length distribution that gives full information of the fiber lengths present in the sample. It has similar precision and accuracy as the Suter-Webb array method but is far faster and easier.


4.Accomplishments
1. Producing high quality yarns from blends of cotton with ginning motes. With the current high prices for cotton it is economically desirable to supplement with cheaper material and still produce commercially acceptable textile product that would contain one hundred percent cotton fibers. Scientists at ARS Clemson, South Carolina, working in cooperation with the ARS Ginning Laboratory in Stoneville, MS, obtained bale quantities of three grades of gin motes including raw, semi-processed, and reginned. Blending, cleaning, and spinning protocols were optimized to demonstrate that high quality ring- and rotor-spun yarns could be produced using conventional processing equipment with up to thirty percent blended motes. This work will be quite beneficial to the U.S. textile manufacturers to help their bottom line.

2. Determination of fiber blending efficiency using a chemical tag. With the cost of cotton currently at near record amounts, much interest has been centered around using waste fiber generated at the cotton gin (termed gin motes) to blend with normal bales in order to enhance cost savings for the textile producer. A methodology to determine the efficiency of this blending process was invented at Cotton Quality Research Station (CQRS) by which a chemical tag is adhered to the mote fiber and subsequently analyzed at various stages of yarn processing. Results indicate that nearly 100% of the spinnable fiber present in the gin motes is incorporated into the resultant yarn, and that the fiber is furthermore spread homogeneously throughout the yarn. This work not only proves the efficacy of using so-called waste fiber to produce textile grade yarn, but also introduces a method to determine and subsequently enhance blending efficiency in the textile mill in order to produce a superior and valuable product.

3. Development of a standard test method for determining fiber widths using image analysis. The quality attributes of flax fiber, such as fiber diameter are key criteria for determining the type of utilization, which in turn impacts the price of the flax fiber. However, it is difficult to correctly quantify fiber diameters due to the wide range of fiber diameters, fiber complexity due to impurities and fibrillation, and image analysis intricacies. ARS researchers at Clemson, SC, have addressed fiber diameter measurement issues on flax fiber using a piece of specialized software along with a standard computer and slide scanner. This method involves the measurement and analysis of two dimensional projections of fibers using image analysis software in the longitudinal plane to determine the arithmetic mean and its standard deviation, median, and numerical distribution of the fiber widths. This accomplishment will potentially impact flax variety selection, degree of required processing, yarn quality, and thereby increase the competitiveness of U.S. flax fiber.

4. Development of a rapid, non-destructive method for determining cotton fiber maturity. An accurate determination of the degree of maturity of cotton is essential to assess its value and process ability into a quality textile. ARS researchers at Clemson, SC, developed the simple three-band ratio algorithms based Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy procedure to determine the fiber maturity and crystallinity simultaneously in a direct way. The method requires minimal sample preparation, permits routine analysis in both laboratory and field environments, and is easy to operate. Useful information on cotton maturity and crystallinity is desirable to cotton breeders and producers for cotton enhancement and to textile processors for fiber grading and quality control.

5. Enhanced fiber length measurements for raw cotton. The quality of cotton fiber, such as length, in baled cotton is an important criterion for determining the classing grade, which in turn impacts the price of the cotton. It is desirable to acquire accurate fiber lengths, however, it is difficult to correctly classify due to problems associated with the method to hold the fibers. ARS researchers at Clemson, SC, have addressed length measurement issues using a piece of specialized equipment (Peyer Almeter AL100) that has been modified and improved via computer control. This measurement system converts the span length distribution into a complete fiber length distribution, that gives full information of the fiber lengths present in the sample. This accomplishment will potentially impact both the production efficiency and quality of yarns by serving as a basis for fiber length measurements, properly setting up processing equipment, and thereby increasing the competitiveness of U.S. cotton textiles.


Review Publications
Frydrch, I., Thibodeaux, D.P. 2010. Fiber Quality Evaluation - Current and Future Trends/Instrinsic Value of Fiber Quality in Cotton. In: Wakelyn, P.J., Chaudhry, M.R., editors. Cotton: Technology for the 21st Century. 1st edition. International Cotton Advisory Committee - ICAC. p. 251-295.

Liu, Y., Gamble, G.R., Thibodeaux, D.P. 2010. Two-dimensional attenuated total reflection infrared correlation spectroscopy study of the desorption process of water-soaked cotton fibers. Applied Spectroscopy. 64(12):1355-1363.

Hinchliffe, D.J., Meredith Jr, W.R., Delhom, C.D., Thibodeaux, D.P., Fang, D.D. 2011. Elevated growing degree days influence transition stage timing during cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) fiber development and result in increased fiber strength. Crop Science. 51:1683-1692. DOI: 10.2135/cropsci2010.10.0569.

Abbott, A., Hequet, E., Higgerson, G., Lucas, S., Naylor, G., Purmalis, M., Thibodeaux, D.P. 2010. Performance of the Cottonscan Instrument for Measuring the Average Fiber Linear Density (Fineness) of Cotton Lint Samples. Textile Research Journal. 81(1):94-100.

Foulk, J.A., Akin, D., Dodd, R., Ulven, C. 2011. Production of flax fibers for biocomposites. In: Kalia, S., Kaith, B.S., Kaur, I., ediotrs. Cellulose Fibers: Bio- and Nano-Polymer Composites-Green Chemistry and Technology. 1st edition. Heidelberg, Germany:Springer-Verlag. p.61-75.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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