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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Cotton Ginning Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #222755

Title: Detecting plastics in seedcotton

item Funk, Paul

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/5/2008
Publication Date: 5/29/2008
Citation: Funk, P.A. 2008. Detecting plastics in seedcotton. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference, January 8-11, 2008, Nashville, TN. p. 620-624. 2008 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: This paper reports on research advancing the capability to detect small amounts of contaminating plastic materials in large amounts of raw seedcotton, even when the contaminant is beneath the surface. The advance came from construction of a new instrument based on but having several significant modifications from detectors used in defense and homeland security. Implications include reducing claims against spinning mills (estimated at $5 million annually in the US) and increasing grower confidence in new harvester systems that employ on-board module formation.

Technical Abstract: To increase global market share and value the US cotton industry needs to supply cotton lint that is free of contamination. Removing plastic contamination first requires developing a means to detect plastics in seedcotton. This study was conducted to validate a custom Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS) that will be used to find small amounts of plastic in a background of heated seedcotton. The custom IMS analyzer with membrane inlet sampled air displaced from a drying oven containing seedcotton alone or seedcotton and plastic samples. Vapors from plastics associated with cotton contamination were detected with the custom IMS analyzer. One to two minutes were required to achieve the maximum plastic signal in seed cotton; it took much longer for the signal to completely dissipate. IMS detection of plastics vapors in seedcotton is feasible in the laboratory. Developing an IMS system for commercial cotton gins may require additional seedcotton handling equipment.