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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: New and Improved Assessments of Cotton Quality

Location: Cotton Structure and Quality Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Develop new industrially supported methods to assess cotton quality. Sub-objective 1a: Develop ways to characterize short fibers in cotton. Sub-objective 1b: Develop methods to measure seed coat fragments. Sub-objective 1c: Develop assessment methods for cotton properties that may contribute to cotton textile processability and product quality, but not conventionally assessed, such as micronaire and its components (such as maturity), three-dimensional color, and environmental impact on fiber properties. Objective 2: Develop new industrially supported methods to establish scientific foundations for standards and the next generation instruments for cotton classing. Sub-objective 2a: Develop new algorithms and methods to obtain fiber length distributions from a rapid fiber beard testing method. Sub-objective 2b: Characterize the distributions of key cotton properties as well as single cotton fiber measurement. Objective 3: Develop new industrially supported assessment techniques and methods for cotton producers, breeders, and others to evaluate fiber properties at various fiber development or processing stages based on small samples. Sub-objective 3a: Develop assessment techniques and methods to evaluate fiber properties at various fiber development stages based through sampling/measurement of the cotton product at-line and/or in the cotton field. Sub-objective 3b: Develop assessment techniques and methods to evaluate fiber properties and textile products during processing stages of small samples of fiber into textile goods.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
This research is a comprehensive effort to develop improved or new testing methods that are not currently in the cotton classing system so that the textile manufacturers can more efficiently select and utilize cotton to reduce cost and improve product quality and so that our international customers can get quantified U.S. cotton quality. The value of adding new measurements will be studied by processing large numbers of cotton samples into textile yarns and fabrics. The first objective develops new methods to assess cotton quality. Statistical modeling will be used to characterize short fibers in cotton. An automated image analysis system will be developed to relate seed coat fragments to textile processability and product quality. Microscopy and molecular spectroscopy will be used to develop measurement methods and to characterize fiber micronaire and its components (maturity, fineness). Advanced color and spectroscopic instrumentation, combined with statistical modeling, will be used to measure color and trash components. A room whose environment (moisture level) can be changed and controlled will be used to determine the impacts of moisture on quality assessments and instrumentation. The second objective develops methods for fiber length distributions and single fiber measurements. New beard methods and statistical modeling will be used to obtain fiber length distributions. Automated constant-rate of transverse tensile testers and statistical modeling will be used to monitor key single fiber properties (strength, fineness, etc.) and to establish relationships between single fiber properties and conventional bulk properties. The third objective develops new quality assessment tools for cotton breeders and others to evaluate fiber properties at various fiber development or processing stages based on small samples. New molecular spectroscopy, imaging, and textile instrumentation will be used to assess fiber properties and quality at-line or in the field. Very small scale processing systems (50-100 grams) will be developed and used to assess fiber properties and processability from carding to knitting or weaving on miniature equipment.

3. Progress Report:
ARS scientists at Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans,LA completed a comprehensive study on optimal selection of fiber length parameters to predict yarn properties. Various cotton length parameters were obtained from a selection of cottons covering a wider range of properties. Optimal statistical models were developed to predict ring and open-end spun yarns’ properties and processability. ARS scientists continued instrumental measurements of Seed Coat Fragments (SCF). Dark specks in fabrics were measured with the Autorate image analysis system and compared to fiber properties measured on the Advanced Fiber Information System (AFIS). Statistical analysis on the test results of fiber properties, yarn defects and fabric dark specks revealed that seed coat neps and neps/gram were the most important AFIS variables for predicting the dark specks (and SCF) in fabrics. A method was developed using Near Infrared (NIR) instruments (bench-top and portable) to measure fiber micronaire, maturity, and fineness in the laboratory. Instrumental, sampling, and operational procedures were established. The NIR simultaneous measurement of cotton fiber micronaire, maturity, and fineness was rapid and easy to perform. In addition, methods in Fourier-Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy were used to analyze binary cotton trash mixtures. Using the developed spectral libraries, over 90% of the total binary cotton trash mixtures were correctly identified. A method was developed to compute the fiber staple curve and length distribution from optical signals acquired by measuring a tapered fiber bundle. Different fiber length parameters were calculated from the staple diagrams. Results showed good agreements with AFIS results, which were used as the reference. A large set of cottons from domestic and international sources has been gathered. These cottons were tested using standard bulk property test methods. A subset of these cottons was characterized using single fiber measurement technologies. All of the relevant data plus descriptive information on the origin of the material has been cataloged and stored as part of a comprehensive database. Signal analysis methods to obtain distributions of properties is underway, as is the adoption of two new fiber test instruments which report both bulk properties and their distributions. To address stakeholders’ need for measure cotton fiber color in remote locations (e.g., warehouse), ARS scientists expanded the research of measurements with portable color spectrophotometers. The diffuse reflectance color value Rd was added. Three color spectrophotometers were evaluated and very good inter-instrument agreement was observed for each unit, with over 88% of the samples meeting agreement criteria. Samples were processed in commercial textile mills, the miniature-scale and large-scale systems for comparison of processing and performance. A complete overhaul of the large-scale processing line is being carried out to better reflect current industry practices and capabilities. Breeder samples were processed on the small-scale equipment to evaluate fiber properties and assess the technique as a tool for breeders.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Rodgers III, J.E., Elkholy, K.N., Cui, X., Delhom, C.D., Fortier, C.A. 2012. Fiber sample presentation system for spectrophotometer cotton fiber color measurements. Journal of Cotton Science. 16:117-124.

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.

Vogt, F., Luttrell, R.D., Rodgers III, J.E. 2011. New approaches for field analyses of cotton quality by means of near infrared spectroscopy supported by chemometrics. Analytical Letters. 44(15):2466-2477.

Bel, P., Xu, B. 2011. Measurements of seed coat fragments in cotton fibers and fabrics. Textile Research Journal. 81(19):1983-1994.

Fortier, C.A., Rodgers III, J.E., Foulk, J.A. 2011. Investigation of the impact of instrumental and software applications on cotton and botanical trash identification by ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy. Journal of Cotton Science. 15:170-178.

Rodgers III, J.E., Delhom, C.D., Fortier, C.A., Thibodeaux, D.P. 2012. Rapid measurement of cotton fiber maturity and fineness by image analysis microscopy using the Cottonscope®. Textile Research Journal. 82(3):259-271.

Bel, P., Xu, B., Yao, X. 2011. White speck potential for mechanically harvested cottons. American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Review. 11(4):59-65.

Liu, Y., Gamble, G.R., Thibodeaux, D.P. 2011. Potential of near infrared spectroscopy in the prediction of cotton fiber strength indices. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 27(5): 839-843.

Liu, Y., Thibodeaux, D.P., Gamble, G.R. 2012. Characterization of attenuated total reflection infrared spectral intensity variations of immature and mature cotton fibers by two-dimensional correlation analysis. Applied Spectroscopy. 66(2):198-207.

Fortier, C.A. 2012. Fourier transform spectroscopy of cotton and cotton trash. Fourier Transform. In: Salih, S.M.,editor. Fourier Transform - Materials Analysis. InTech, 5 p.103-120.

Liu, Y. 2012. Principal component analysis in the development of optical and imaging spectroscopic inspections for agricultural / food safety and quality. In:Sanguansat, P. Principle Component Analysis. Rijeka, Croatia: InTech. p. 125-144.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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