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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCING QUALITY, UTILITY, SUSTAINABILITY, ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF COTTON AND ITS BYPRODUCTS THROUGH IMPROVEMENT IN HARVEST/GIN PROCESSING

Location: Cotton Ginning Research

Title: Changes in cotton gin energy consumption apportioned by ten functions

Authors
item Funk, Paul
item Hardin, Robert
item Hughs, Sidney
item Boykin Jr, James

Submitted to: Journal of Cotton Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 9, 2012
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Citation: Funk, P.A., Hardin Iv, R.G., Hughs, S.E., Boykin Jr, J.C. 2013. Changes in cotton gin energy consumption apportioned by ten functions. Journal of Cotton Science. 17:174-183.

Interpretive Summary: The public is concerned about air quality and sustainability. Cotton producers, gin owners and plant managers are concerned about rising energy prices. Both have an interest in cotton gin energy consumption trends. This analysis looked at the change in cotton gins’ energy consumption over the past fifty years, a period of significant increase in labor productivity, to determine if replacing man-hours with machinery resulted in increased energy use. Data from recent audits and monitoring studies was combined to estimate energy consumption in total and for each of ten processing or materials-handling functions. These values were compared to similar data published nearly fifty years ago, by region and across the U.S. Electrical energy consumed per unit of cotton processed decreased by 19% to 34% despite the increasing energy burden of more stringent emissions regulations. This is welcome news in a day when consumers are concerned about the carbon footprint of the products that they enjoy.

Technical Abstract: The public is concerned about air quality and sustainability. Cotton producers, gin owners and plant managers are concerned about rising energy prices. Both have an interest in cotton gin energy consumption trends. Changes in cotton gins’ energy consumption over the past fifty years, a period of significant increase in labor productivity, were estimated to determine if replacing man-hours with machinery resulted in increased energy use. Data from recent audits and monitoring studies was combined to estimate energy consumption in total and for each of ten processing or materials-handling functions. These values were compared to similar data published nearly fifty years ago, by region and across the U.S. Bale formation energy consumption had increased because gins now press bales to nearly twice the density compared to the early 1960’s. Other processing categories decreased significantly. Most materials-handling categories did not change very much, but trash handling had decreased despite the increasing energy burden of more stringent emissions regulations. In total, electrical energy consumed per unit of cotton processed decreased by 19% to 34%, even as gin processing rates have increased three to six fold, and as mechanization has made labor four to six times more productive. This is welcome news in a day when consumers are concerned about the carbon footprint of their purchases.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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