Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research
Title: Utilization of pre-cleaned greige cotton in nonwovens: a sensible approach
Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 12, 2011
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Condon, B.D., Reynolds, M.L., Allen Jr, H.C., Slopek, R.P., Nam, S., Lawson, G. 2011. Utilization of pre-cleaned greige cotton in nonwovens: a sensible approach. Proceedings, 2011 NetInc (TAPPI Innovative Nonwovens Conference). 473-477.
Although cotton – a consumer-preferred, naturally sustainable fiber – has been extensively used in traditional textiles for centuries, its utilization in nonwoven fabrics has been minimal (~2% by weight). A major reason thus far for the cotton not being a preferred fiber for modern nonwovens has been that the supplied raw (greige/non-bleached) cotton needs to be thoroughly cleaned of its foreign matter (such as the plant debris, bark, leaves, seed-coat fragments, etc.) and, generally, also needs to be scoured and bleached to remove the fiber’s own non-cellulosic matter (such as the natural waxes, sugars and pigments) before it can be processed in existing nonwovens roll-goods manufacturing entities. The nonwovens manufacturing plants today typically use/process synthetic and manufactured supply fibers (such as polyester, polypropylene, rayon, etc.) that inherently are clean/pure, consistent and white (in color) and, hence, do not require the cleaning that the supply raw cotton almost always requires. In other words, the nonwovens manufacturers mostly do not have the equipment and technical expertise required to clean and possibly bleach the classical, supplied raw cotton.
The Agricultural Research Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture in New Orleans, Louisiana, has directed research to examine the feasibility and potential of using a rather novel, commercially available “gin-pre-cleaned, greige raw cotton” that is not bleached or treated with any chemical, water or heat and is very clean and tidy and, hence, comparable/compatible in cleanliness with the manufactured fibers. In fact, certain quality grades of this so-called UltrClean® greige/raw cotton are also quite white in color, suggesting that these cotton quality grades may be purely, or in blend with other white fibers, processed, without any user-mill cleaning, into certain premium quality nonwoven products. Indeed, the research conducted on a commercial-grade textile-cum-nonwovens pilot plant has shown that the gin (mechanically) pre-cleaned greige cotton can be efficiently processed into viable nonwoven fabrics, using the fiber hydro-entanglement system of fabricating nonwovens. The research has also shown that the greige cotton fabric produced at certain optimum hydroentangling conditions can be efficiently bleached without the customary, costly and time-consuming (cotton) scouring process. This paper presentation describes the properties of the pre-cleaned cotton used, the fiber processing methods applied to fabricate a nonwoven fabric, and the properties of the fabric produced.