Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/22/2011
Publication Date: 5/10/2011
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Reynolds, M.L., Condon, B.D., Slopek, R.P., Gary, L., Allen Jr, H.C. 2011. A comparative study of nonwoven fabrics made with two distinctly different forms of greige cotton lint. Textile Research Journal. 81(14):1484-1492. Interpretive Summary: To promote value-added utilization of cotton, the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture has initiated a comprehensive research to explore use of cotton in modern nonwovens. At present, the use of cotton in nonwovens is almost negligible (~2% by weight of the total nonwovens markets today). A research study was planned and conducted to determine the feasibility of utilizing greige (non-scoured/bleached) cotton lint in production of nonwoven goods on commercial equipment and machinery that had been appropriately modified. The results of the study show that greige cottons indeed can be efficiently processed into nonwoven fabrics of acceptable attributes. Further, as it is well known that the added fiber lubricity due to presence of natural oils and waxes on greige cotton fibers generally enables the latter to outperform the bleached cotton fibers in mechanical processing (especially towards the web formation with lesser fiber breakage, higher processing rates, and, hence, greater productivity), the use of greige cotton in nonwovens may be more beneficial compared to the present use of bleached cotton fibers. Furthermore, the study interestingly has also shown that a pre-cleaned greige cotton lint may be efficiently processed even without the customary cotton blow-room cleaning equipment and processes. Since a typical nonwovens production entity today generally does not have any such facilities to open and clean raw greige cotton, this research finding makes the use of a pre-cleaned, greige cotton lint even more attractive for those nonwovens manufacturers that would like to incorporate cotton - a naturally renewable, sustainable, eco-friendly, and cost-effective raw material – into its product mix, but, as expected, have no cotton cleaning capacity.
Technical Abstract: Two sets of nonwoven fabrics of nominal 80 g/m2 density were produced on commercial equipment, using two distinctly different forms of greige cotton lint. One was a regular cotton taken from a randomly picked classical bale and the other was a uniquely pre-cleaned UltraCleanTM cotton produced by a well known U.S. cotton producer and ginner. A variety of fabrics within each set were produced by two different bonding methods, using a needlepunch (NP) system and a hydroentanglement (HE) system. Some of the fabrics produced were wet processed by scouring only and others were both scoured and bleached. All fabrics were tested for a comparison of their physical and mechanical properties that, along with the fiber and fabric processing metrics, are discussed in this article. The information obtained from this comparative study has shown that both the regular and UltraClean greige (non-scoured/bleached) cottons can be processed satisfactorily on existing commercial textile processing equipment to produce acceptable nonwoven fabrics. The study has also indicated that, in production of certain nonwoven fabrics, the UltraClean cotton may be processed without traditional and tedious cotton cleaning equipment that is needed for non-pre-cleaned cotton. This is a significant advantage for the existing nonwovens manufacturers who generally do not have the fiber cleaning equipment and related technical expertise, since almost all nonwoven roll goods manufacturers today use man-made fibers that inherently are clean and uniform and thus do not require the cleaning and homogenization that is typical of natural fibers.