Submitted to: Fiber Society Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/21/2010
Publication Date: 11/9/2010
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Reynolds, M.L., Allen Jr, H.C., Slopek, R.P., Condon, B.D., Gary, L. 2010. A novel approach for efficient utilization of cotton into nonwovens. Fiber Society Meeting. 2p. Interpretive Summary: Mainly because of the unfavorable cost and supply competitiveness and the difficulties encountered in processing cotton by the existing nonwoven goods manufacturers, the use of cotton in modern nonwovens is minimal (~1% by weight of all the nonwovens markets today). The bleached cotton fiber stock that is generally used in value-added products, such as medical tools and accessories, is costly, difficult to mechanically process especially during carding, and environmentally somewhat sensitive. A reliable supply of cotton of uniform and consistent fiber quality and efficient processability could be a real boom for the valued- and volume- utilization of cotton by the nonwovens industry. Based on the results of a preliminary research study, it seems that the use of a pre-cleaned raw/greige cotton, such as the UltraClean® cotton, may be an economically and technically sensible and sound approach to manufacture cotton-based nonwovens. However, the reliability and efficiency of existing commercial water filtration systems for re-circulating the effluent water must be confirmed, in order to reap benefits of hydroentangling any raw cotton. The work presented here in this article did not recycle the (HE) process water.
Technical Abstract: In a cooperative research and development project with a progressive U.S. cotton producer & ginner, the ARS-USDA has conducted a preliminary investigative study to determine the feasibility of using pre-cleaned cotton for certain nonwoven substrates. This article briefly describes the processing of the pre-cleaned, UltraClean® cotton into needlepunched-cum-hydroentangled substrates. Properties of the fabrics made with three different high-pressure water (hydroentangling) jets are determined and reported here. Based on the results of the study, it is clear that the pre-cleaned cotton indeed is ultra clean and that it may provide another viable avenue for efficiently processing cotton into certain nonwoven products, using the existing equipment in commercial nonwovens manufacturing entities. Further, the fabrics thus produced are almost free from the raw fibers’ inherent waxes. This unique development makes the greige (non-scoured/bleached) fabrics readily absorbent without the traditional scouring and bleaching. Furthermore, the fabrics look nearly white, considering that no bleaching was involved. However, the fabrics can be scoured and/or bleached, if required. Needless to say, these unique developments attained from this preliminary exercise are very promising milestones forward to potentially increasing the use of cotton in nonwovens.