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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Cotton Ginning Research

2013 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:
1) Work continued on the effects cotton cultivar has on the cotton ginning process especially as cultivar affects final quality. This unit along with others in ARS and outside continued working on the hairiness issue and a hairiness index has been proposed which will allow the producer to better compare cultivars when planting the crop. 2) Work continued with the ginning energy relationship with cultivar. 3) Significant progress was made in publishing the study of dust from ginning processes with other ARS researchers and those outside ARS. Sample analysis, data analysis, and draft manuscripts were completed. 4) Data collection and analysis continued for the study of all aspects of energy use in ginning. Some results were released. 5) Data were collected, analyzed and a preliminary publication prepared regarding the pneumatic conveying of seed cotton. Much energy is used in pneumatic conveying in cotton gins and much of this energy is known to not be strictly required to move the seed cotton; rather the use of pneumatic conveying is convenient for gin design and operation. However, little data has been published regarding the engineering details of pneumatic conveyance of seed cotton. 6) An experimental gin processing system has been designed, many machines and other parts have been purchased, and installation was begun. This system will allow the study of higher capacity systems similar to the higher capacity commercial gins. 7) Based on request from the industry and with financial support from them, work with the measurement of cotton bale moisture content was continued in a commercial gin in TN and the results were similar to what was seen in a different gin in the previous year at a gin in GA. 8) Roller ginning has been used in the arid southwest, especially with pima cotton, and has resulted in fiber with better length quality. Additional data of the roller ginning of upland cotton in the humid Mississippi Delta at different moisture content levels showed that the effects on fiber quality were different than when saw-type gins were used at the same moisture contents.

4. Accomplishments

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

Sui, R., Byler, R.K. 2012. Air-bar cotton lint cleaner. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 28(2):173-177.

Von Hoven, T.M., Montalvo Jr, J.G., Byler, R.K. 2012. Preliminary assestment of lint cotton water content in gin-drying temperature studies. Journal of Cotton Science. 16:282-292.

Last Modified: 2/23/2016
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