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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Cotton Ginning Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1. Develop and/or improve technologies for cotton harvesting and processing that favorably impact energy use, raw fiber processing, fiber quality, and fiber end use. 1A. Improve or enhance fiber quality and end use of Upland Cotton and/or Pima cotton. 1B. Enhance harvesting and raw fiber processing. 1C. Reduce overall gin energy use to produce raw fiber. 2. Develop new and/or improved processing, sensing, and control technologies for superior fiber/seed separation, foreign matter identification and extraction, and accurate measurement and process control of on-line fiber properties to produce a better quality fiber with greater economic value and textile utility properties. 2A. Improve seed cotton foreign matter extraction and fiber/seed separation. 2B. Enhance extraction of non-fiber plant material from ginned lint. 2C. Improve foreign matter identification in ginned lint by use of image analysis techniques. 3. Develop new technologies and alternative uses for cotton ginning equipment, lint, cottonseed, and gin by-products that will increase the value of gin-related products. 3A. Improve value of cottonseed and gin-related co-products. 3B. Develop alternative uses of cotton ginning equipment. 4. Develop new information and/or improve technologies for environmental assessment and remediation to assist ginning and related agricultural industries to comply with safety and environmental regulations. 4A. Assist ginning industry in complying with regulatory standards. 4B. Develop and evaluate abatement technologies and/or management practices for controlling agricultural particulate matter emissions.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
1: Advance roller ginning knowledge 1) by use of high-speed digital video camera to determine geometry of cottonseed and fiber with respect to the stationary knife, rotary knife, and ginning roller as fiber is pulled off the cottonseed at the ginning point with different designs of the stationary and rotary knife, the speed of the rotary knife and ginning roller, and fiber length of different cultivars; 2) investigate new roller covering materials to find frictional properties that allow fiber to stick to the roller surface and slip on the stationary knife surface and at the same time increase ginning rate; 3) as determined from earlier studies, at least 4 styles of experimental lint cleaner grid bars will be built/tested on full-size commercial lint cleaner for ability to remove seedcoat fragments and other lint impurities as well as their effect on fiber properties, 4) develop improved seed cotton reclaimer using an iterative process, 5) evaluate picker design changes relative to different spindle rotation speeds, spindle diameter and spindle shape, and their effect on picked fiber quality; 6) develop gin energy consumption model and gin design and operating recommendations based on actual gin operational variables using on-site survey and field electrical energy use data from existing commercial gin plants. 2: 1) verify seed cotton moisture prediction model over a range more inclusive of target seed-cotton moisture contents and dryer temperatures; 2) build/validate a system using Ion Mobility Spectrometer instrument to detect contaminating plastics in seed cotton in the lab and then at commercial gin; 3) conduct initial lab tests using microwave generator and seed cotton of varying moisture content and bulk density levels to see how well electromagnetic waves penetrate bulk seed cotton and remove moisture, also determine pattern of moisture removal; 4) lab test experimental gin saw tooth designs based on experimental observations for effect on ginned fiber quality; 5) design/test series of experimental saw lint cleaner grid bars as well as a pneumatic cleaner using no grid bars for their cleaning efficiency and effect on fiber quality; 5) identification of foreign matter in lint using imaging techniques developed by ARS will be evaluated by AMS relative to manual classing results on selected classing samples. 3: 1) Crush Pima cottonseed under controlled conditions, separate into meal and oil. Evaluate meal for its value as a dairy feed; oil will be evaluated by cooperators for its bioenergy properties; 2) an experimental machine based on a saw-type lint cleaner will be designed/tested for ability to process/reclaim waste fiberglass insulation. 4: 1) conduct large multi-year field testing program at cooperating gin sites to develop PM2.5 emission estimates, develop robust dataset for cotton gin emissions for use in air quality low-level dispersion models, and document errors associated with federal reference method PM10 and PM2.5 stack and ambient sampling methodologies when exposed to ag particulate matter; 2) experimentally apply gin emission control technology to other ag processes/applications, improve current gin abatement technology.

3. Progress Report:
Progress on the four objectives of this project focused on cotton production, ginning, textile processing, and regulatory issues. Under Objective 1, significant progress was made in developing and improving cotton harvesting and processing technologies. To improve fiber quality and end use, enhancements to a roller gin lint cleaner were made and tested, and results showed that it could complement improvements in cotton quality obtained with an experimental differential roller gin. A survey to assess current roller ginning industry needs and practices was continued for a second year. Five experimental lint-cleaner grid bars designed to remove cotton seed coat fragments, which cause problems at the spinning mill, were evaluated with a common cotton cultivar and a cultivar known to produce excessive fragments. Also tested was a newly designed air knife for lint-cleaner grid bars that showed promise in helping to remove seed coat fragments. A prototype roller gin cotton reclaimer was installed, and preliminary testing revealed that the capacity was adequate to accommodate high speed roller ginning. To enhance cotton harvesting, a second year of cotton picker harvester spindle testing was completed, and results indicated that larger diameter spindles left less cotton unharvested in the field. To reduce gin energy usage, data from installed gin energy monitoring equipment was used to determine the impact of gin operating variables on energy consumption. Under Objective 2, progress was made to develop processing, sensing, and control technologies. For better cotton gin dryer control, data collection at a commercial cotton gin to calibrate a cotton moisture measurement system was continued for a second year, with results leading to further instrumentation improvements. Also, a small-scale electronic dryer was improved, and initial testing to dry high-moisture cotton with lower energy requirements was conducted. Five experimental cotton gin saws designed to improve cotton quality while maintaining ginning capacity were constructed and tested in the laboratory. Under Objective 3, progress was made to develop alternative uses for cotton ginning equipment. A previously developed technology, applying gin machinery principles to separate fibrous material from backing for insulation recycling, was further modified and tested with improved separation methods. Under Objective 4, significant progress was made to develop new information and improve technologies for environmental assessment and remediation. To assist the ginning industry in complying with regulatory standards, data analyses for a national, multi-year gin sampling project to quantify and characterize cotton gin particulate emissions were completed, technical reports were submitted to collaborators, and to document developed emission factors, 51 journal manuscripts were drafted and submitted. From the same sampling project, data for a robust dust dispersion modeling dataset were consolidated. To evaluate dust abatement technologies, current agricultural dust abatement cyclones were tested, with results showing that energy consumption may be reduced without reducing dust capturing performance.

4. Accomplishments
1. When the dust settles, gin emissions are clear. The US EPA puts tough limits on the levels of dust allowed in the air, and they require state regulatory agencies to submit plans on how they will cut dust emissions. Until now, there were no published agricultural processing emissions data for fine dust – PM2.5, particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller, or smaller than 1/20th of the thickness of a human hair. And data for total dust and coarse dust – PM10, particles 10 micrometers in diameter and smaller – was deemed to be of poor quality. In the absence of real data, state regulatory agencies have to guess, which often leads to overestimation of agricultural emissions and unnecessary burdens on agriculture to meet resulting regulations. At the urging of cotton ginners and state agencies across the cotton belt, ARS researchers in Mesilla Park, New Mexico; Stoneville, Mississippi; and Lubbock, Texas, and Oklahoma State University researchers in Stillwater, Oklahoma, embarked on a multi-year project to measure dust emissions at cotton gins across the country to address current regulatory issues, bringing together agricultural industry leaders, university researchers, and state and federal regulators as advisors along the way. Previously nonexistent PM2.5 emissions data for 17 different cotton gin systems and total dust and PM10 emissions data for 6 gin systems were developed, and total dust and PM10 emissions data for 11 gin systems were bolstered. Already a California regulatory agency, using this information to develop its US EPA required PM2.5 State Implementation Plan, recommended no additional regulatory actions for cotton gins. Also, Texas revised its cotton gin permitting rules based on the research results. These results will aid state regulatory agencies in developing plans to comply with EPA regulations and, in turn, aid the ginning industry in that regulation will be based on sound scientific information specifically for gins.

Review Publications
Hughs, S.E., Armijo, C.B., Foulk, J.A. 2013. Upland fiber changes due to ginning and lint cleaning. Journal of Cotton Science. 17(2):115-124.

Baker, K.D., Armijo, C.B., Funk, P.A., Hughs, S.E. 2013. Emissions from gas fired agricultural burners. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(2):269-277.

Zhang, J., Cantrell, R.C., Flynn, R., Hughs, S.E., Bajaj, S., Waddell, C., Jones, D.C. 2011. Registration of 'Acala 1517-08' Cotton. Journal of Plant Registrations. 5(2):156-163.

Fortier, C.A., Rodgers III, J.E., Foulk, J.A., Whitelock, D.P. 2012. Near-infrared classification of cotton lint, botanical and field trash. Journal of Cotton Science. 16:72-79.

Hardin IV, R.G., Funk, P.A. 2012. Electricity use patterns in cotton gins. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 28(6): 841-849.

Parnell, Jr, C.B., McGee, R.O., Ganesan, B., Vanderlick, F.J., Hughs, S.E., Green, K. 2012. A critical evaluation of combustible/explosible dust testing methods - Part 1. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries. 26(3):427-433.

Baker, K.D. 2012. Temperature control for seed cotton drying systems. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 28(6):885-890.

Wang-Li, L., Cao, Z., Buser, M.D., Whitelock, D.P., Parnell, C.B., Zhang, Y. 2013. Techniques for measuring particle size distribution of particulate matter emitted from animal feeding operations. Atmospheric Environment. 66:25-32.

Funk, P.A., Baker, K.D. 2013. Dust cyclone technology for gins – A literature review. Journal of Cotton Science. 17(1):40-51.

Armijo, C.B., Foulk, J.A., Whitelock, D.P., Hughs, S.E., Holt, G.A., Gillum, M.N. 2013. Fiber and yarn properties from high-speed roller ginning of upland cotton. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(4):461-471.

Tiwari, R.S., Picchioni, G., Steiner, R.L., Hughs, S.E., Jones, D.C., Zhang, J. 2013. Genetic variation in salt tolerance during seed germination in a backcross inbred line population and advanced breeding lines derived from upland cotton x pima cotton. Crop Science. 53(5):1974-1982.

Last Modified: 05/28/2017
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