Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research
Title: Greige cotton comber noils for sustainable nonwovens
Submitted to: World Journal of Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 26, 2010
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Reynolds, M.L., Allen Jr, H.C., Condon, B.D., Slopek, R.P., Hinchliffe, D.J., Hui, D. 2011. Greige cotton comber noils for sustainable nonwovens. World Journal of Engineering. 8(3):293-296.
Interpretive Summary: Although cotton -- a likable, natural, renewable and, hence, sustainable fiber -– has been extensively used in traditional textiles for centuries, its utilization in nonwoven fabrics has been minimal (~2%). A major reason for the cotton, especially its greige/virgin fiber, not being a preferred fiber thus far in modern nonwovens plants is that cotton needs to be pre-cleaned of its foreign matter (such as the plant debris; bark, leaves, seed-coat fragments, etc.) and, generally, scoured and bleached as well (to remove the fiber’s own non-cellulosic matter such as, waxes, sugars and pigments). However, the nonwovens manufacturing plants typically do not have the required cotton cleaning and/or bleaching equipment and technical expertise.\
However, some nonwovens manufacturing companies, who want to competitively incorporate cotton into their products (especially now in the current strong green movement for sustainable consumer products), try to use bleached cotton comber noils that are very clean and sell at less than 1/4 the price of a classical virgin cotton (that still needs to be cleaned however, before it can be efficiently used in a typical nonwovens manufacturing plant). However, the process of scouring and bleaching cotton in fiber form is costly (sometimes, equivalent to the purchase price of classical virgin/raw greige (non-bleached) cotton), adversely affects the fiber’s performance in carding, and thus tends to deter use of cotton in nonwovens. To improve the overall competiveness of cotton in nonwovens, a new approach to using a far less expensive, greige (non-bleached) cotton comber noils was investigated. A study conducted in that direction has successfully produced a hydroentangled cotton nonwoven fabric of ~140 g/m2 density This article describes the materials and methods used and the properties of the nonwoven fabric produced.
To increase utilization of cotton in value-added nonwoven products, a study was conducted to examine the feasibility of utilizing cotton textile processing/combing bye-product known as griege cotton comber noils. The study was conducted on a commercial-grade, textile-cum-nonwovens pilot plant and has shown that the greige comber noils indeed can be efficiently processed into nonwoven fabrics, using an air-laid system of preparing a fibrous batt for a down-stream fiber-hydroentangling system. The study has also shown that, for certain specific end-use applications where the bleaching of cotton is necessary, the hydroentangled greige cotton fabric produced can be efficiently bleached without the customary cotton scouring process which is costly, time consuming, and environmentally sensitive. The elimination of the scouring process was made possible by optimizing the hydroentangling process metrics (mainly the hydraulic pressure/energy) to remove cotton’s natural hydrophobic contaminants (waxes).