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Title: High-Volume Utilization of Cotton in Nonwovens

item Sawhney, Amar
item Parikh, Dharnidhar
item Condon, Brian

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2008
Publication Date: 6/15/2008
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Parikh, D.V., Condon, B.D., Singh, K. 2008. High-Volume Utilization of Cotton in Nonwovens. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. CDROM. p. 1852-1856.

Interpretive Summary: For one reason or another, the U.S. domestic consumption today of cotton fiber by the indigenous, traditional textile manufacturing industry has dwindled to only about 5-6 million bales a year, while the country continues to produce more than 20 million bales annually. In order to revive domestic, value-added, high-volume utilization of cotton, certain nontraditional technologies, viz., nonwovens (similar to felt and paper making), will be explored to efficiently convert cotton or cotton-rich blends into viable nonwoven structures of certain integrity for certain end-use applications, such as cotton felts, sheeting, shirting, wipes, etc. Modern nonwovens technologies are several-fold more productive than the traditional weaving. If commercially acceptable nonwoven fabrics and other products containing cotton in predominance can be efficiently (i.e., economically and globe-competitively) produced in the U.S., as we expect, it should benefit the cotton producers, user mills, and perhaps the consumers, as well. In addition, the proposed research, if successful, should reduce the national trade deficit, improve domestic employment, and eventually enhance the national economy as well as the homeland security.

Technical Abstract: This article briefly explores possible utilization of cotton in volume in the traditional textile sector and in the growing nontraditional nonwovens sector and covers the challenges and opportunities that may exist on the way. Some new concepts in the development of predominantly cotton-based textile products are explored for research investigations. Mainly because of the fiber entanglements and orientation, a nonwoven fabric structure inherently lacks the desired strength, stability in subsequent processing and usage, durability, uniformity, and drape in the end-uses where cotton is enormously popular historically. Furthermore, for certain cotton nonwoven products for certain medical and hygienic end-uses, the U.S. (machine-picked and ginned) cotton must be thoroughly cleared of its significant amount of foreign matter and then bleached in the fiber state only, because a needle-punched NW cotton structure generally is too weak and unstable to be bleached and wet-finished in the fabric form. This makes cotton very uncompetitive with other available fibers that can be efficiently used for producing similar products. Thus, to resolve some of the problems facing the utilization of cotton in nonwovens, some new concepts to develop certain viable cotton NW structures for certain applications are discussed.