Submitted to: Transactions of the ASAE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/7/2000
Publication Date: 12/1/2000
Citation: Funk, P.A., Gillum, M.N., Hughs, S.E., Pelletier, M.G. 2000. Mass Flow Measurement of Seed Cotton. Transactions of the ASAE. 43(6) p. 1401-1407. Interpretive Summary: Domestic cotton must remain competitive in the world market, both in price and in quality. At the same time, US cotton gins must attract and compensate qualified employees. To process more cotton well, for less money, gins must increase human productivity through automation. A key parameter needed by automated systems is mass flow rate. A new method for accurately determining the mass flow rate of seed cotton measures the pressure created by moving air. When the air conveying cotton up a vertical pipe slows down, more cotton is being lifted. This relationship between air speed and cotton mass flow is consistent between varieties and across a wide range of moisture contents. Gins can inexpensively install the simple hardware required to measure air speed, and most gins already have the electronics needed to convert that value to mass flow. A minimum of capital and expertise is sufficient for adding this important measure.
Technical Abstract: Systems obtaining real time mass flow data were developed to support cotton gin automation. Five experimental mass flow measurement systems were tested against two standards. Tested systems used the attenuation of optical and ultrasonic signals, inertia, and air pressure differences caused by changes in potential energy. A conveyor belt standard indicated real time accuracy while a truck scale standard verified accuracy integrated over time. Conveying air velocity pressure and vertical pipe air pressure differential most accurately reflected mass flow. Their estimate of mass flow rate in real time was within ten percent of the belt scale. Both systems are inexpensive to make and easy to add to an existing cotton gin. They can be calibrated daily using gin production records.