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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Flammability of Cotton Gin Trash/burrs

Authors
item Hughs, Sidney
item Wakelyn, P - RETIRED NCC
item Green, J - TEXAS COTTON GINNERS ASSN

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 11, 2007
Publication Date: January 11, 2007
Citation: Hughs, S.E., Wakelyn, P.J., Green, J.K. 2007. Flammability of cotton gin trash/burrs. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. January 9-12,2007, New Orleans, Louisiana. 2007 CDROM p. 1974-1976.

Interpretive Summary: The ginning process results in baled fiber, seed, and a certain amount of trash. Stripper harvested cottons typically contain several times more trash (often called “burrs” because of its high burr content) than does machine picked cotton. The storage of these piles of burrs may occur on the gin property or they may be stored offsite. These burrs are then used during the year as a bulk feeding ingredient, spread over fields, as a compost material or as a base material for several other products. As with any woody material, burrs can be burned and fires do occasionally occur. Anecdotal information alleges that burrs are capable of spontaneous combustion. However, recent scientific investigation does not support the idea that burr piles will spontaneously combust. This paper summarizes recent research on the flammability of gin trash and the likelihood of spontaneous combustion occurring in burr piles.

Technical Abstract: Seed cotton is removed from the field by a harvester and taken to the cotton gin to finish the harvesting process by separating the incoming seed cotton into four products: cotton fiber/lint, cottonseed, motes and cotton gin trash. Disposal of the cotton gin trash/burrs can be accomplished by spreading over fields, fed as a bulk feeding ingredient, using in composting operations or using as a base material for several other products. The gin trash/burrs may be temporarily stored in bulk (burr piles) on site, or are shipped from the property. If they are shipped from the property, it is not uncommon for these burrs to be stored in bulk on an off-site property, either owned or leased by the gin company. As with any woody material, burrs can be burned and fires occur. The cause of burr fires is usually not known, but could be caused by an ember carried from the gin plant, due to a machinery fire, hot bearing, or similar source, lightening, a hot muffler or spark from a truck or loader, fireworks, or even a carelessly tossed cigarette. Anecdotal information sometimes alleges that burrs are capable of spontaneous combustion but the science does not support this assertion. This paper summarizes research on the flammability of gin trash and the probability of spontaneous combustion in cotton trash/burr piles.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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