Location: Cotton Ginning Research2011 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Our goal is to increase the profitability of the U.S. cotton production system through new and improved cotton ginning equipment and processes resulting in enhanced market value and utility of ginned cotton lint in the global market. We will focus on the following objectives: 1) Refine the design, operation, and management of existing cotton ginning machinery to increase productivity and reduce short fiber content, neps, and seed coat fragments; 2) Improve cotton gin processing by comprehensively investigating the impact of cotton cultivar on fiber quality and non-lint content and develop improved relationships between measurable cotton traits and the value of the final products; 3) Improve automated measurement of relevant properties and control of gin processes for more efficient management, especially related to moisture, fiber quality, and energy use; and 4) Optimize the entire ginning system from module to bale, particularly related to air quality issues, energy use, and control of cotton moisture content.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The objectives are interrelated and success in one contributes to success in another. Improved measurement and control will allow better response to changing gin conditions, including those caused by variation in cultivar. Better machinery design and management can be used to respond to these variations in seed cotton. Improved ginning machinery and better measurements of the cotton being processed will contribute to optimization of the entire ginning system. 1) Refine the design, operation, and management of existing cotton ginning machinery. We will test modifications to existing machinery and new machine designs for the three main functions of ginning machines–seed cotton cleaning, fiber-seed separation, and lint cleaning. We plan to develop machinery with adjustable operating parameters for use in control systems to optimize product value and quality. New management strategies will also be tested. 2) Improve cotton gin processing by improving measurement and use of measurements. Three issues will be addressed under this objective: 1) some important properties are unidentified; 2) no technique exists for measuring certain important properties, particularly in real-time at the gin; and 3) analysis using the current variables results in interactions, which may result from not measuring the correct variables or an incomplete understanding of the processes. First, we will simplify the control problem using cotton from a limited number of known cultivars and growth conditions. Second, we will find measurable traits which will allow adjustments to the ginning process for optimal processing of different cultivars, without knowledge of the cultivar. Finally, a control system using these properties will be developed to maximize fiber value and quality, accounting for variation due to cultivar and growth conditions. 3) Improve automated measurement of relevant properties and control of gin processes for more efficient management, especially related to moisture, fiber quality, and energy use. Currently, many important properties to gin management cannot be measured accurately, or in real-time at the gin. Sensors will be developed to measure these parameters. Advanced statistical techniques will be used to integrate information from many sensors and develop predictive models. The final step will be to develop a control system using these sensors and logic which will result in improved gin management, as demonstrated by improved fiber quality or more efficient use of resources. 4) Optimize the entire ginning system from the seed cotton module to lint, seed, and byproduct use. Dust emissions from cotton gins will be measured, so that regulatory agencies have accurate data. Energy use will be monitored throughout cotton gins. Systems will be designed that can alert ginners to conditions reducing energy efficiency or automatically conserve energy without negatively impacting gin processing. Improved systems will be designed for controlling drying and moisture addition to improve gin efficiency, product storage, and fiber quality.
3. Progress Report
Gins clean seed cotton to remove extraneous plant parts and soil. A survey of commercial cotton gins showed that some gins regularly exceed the currently recommended seed cotton cleaner loading. Equipment was constructed that was capable of processing at rates 3x higher than currently recommended. Tests showed that processing rates significantly higher than recommended could be used without reducing cleaning performance. Testing in a commercial gin at the recommended maximum rate and double that rate showed some loss in cleaning ability at higher rate. Roller ginning produces lint with greater fiber length and less short fiber than saw-ginning with Upland cottons in California and Arizona. A high-speed roller gin stand has been installed along with lint cleaning equipment designed for use with roller gins. The equipment has been tested with Upland cotton grown in the humid Mid-South and analysis has shown an improvement in fiber when using the high-speed roller gins stand line compared to the traditional saw-gin line. Differences in processing for different cotton cultivars have been observed. Because different cotton cultivars respond differently to ginning processes conventional ginning systems do not process all cotton optimally. To quantify these differences the energy and time for ginning a number of genotypes were measured. The energy needed to gin different cotton genotypes was inversely correlated with ginning rate. This relationship supports the concept of developing cultivars which require less energy to process and which could produce savings for the ginning industry. Material flow rate is critical in automated control. A prototype system has been constructed and tested which demonstrated that the system indicates fiber flow rates accurately. Discussions are underway with a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) partner for developing a commercial instrument. Cotton gins use energy in material transport, processing, and drying. Survey data has shown that the energy used per bale produced varies by over 2:1 even for gins of the same size. Initial analysis of energy use in commercial gins shows that less energy per bale is used when the gin stands are kept fully loaded. Power demand in commercial gins when no cotton is being processed was 2/3 of the fully loaded systems. Ginners are encouraged to shut down equipment when not ginning, thereby saving energy and reducing costs. The effect cotton gins have on air quality and issues in measuring and modeling the effect on air quality are being studied at several locations over several years. These samples and data will be analyzed and results shared with relevant regulatory agencies. Moisture content measurement and control in the gin continues to be a problem for stakeholders. Additional efforts have been made to expand the moisture measurement and management efforts, especially in relation to final bale moisture content, and meetings with stakeholders have been undertaken for technology transfer. Additional work in this area is being planned based on stakeholder requests.
Sui, R., Thomasson, J., Byler, R.K., Boykin Jr, J.C., Barnes, E.M. 2010. Effect of machine-fiber interaction on cotton fiber quality and foreign-matter particle attachment to the fiber. Journal of Cotton Science. 14:145-153.