Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/31/2011
Publication Date: 12/16/2011
Citation: Sawhney, A.P., Allen Jr, H.C., Reynolds, M.L., Condon, B.D., Slopek, R.P., Edwards, J.V. 2011. Effect of water pressure on absorbency of hydroentangled greige cotton nonwoven fabrics. Textile Research Journal. 82(1):21-26.
Interpretive Summary: The use of cotton in today’s growing nonwoven products and applications is relatively minimal. Generally, cotton (mostly in the form of ginning motes, linters and textile processing wastes) bleached in the fiber stage and usually blended with synthetic or regenerated, manufactured (white) fibers (such as polypropylene, polyester, rayon, etc.) has been used until now to produce nonwoven fabrics for certain medical, hygienic and wiping end-uses that require good moisture/liquid absorbency. However, the high cost of scouring and bleaching cotton in its fiber form and the associated processing and environmental concerns thereof have cast a shadow on increasing the use of cotton in these and other potential cotton-base nonwovens. A study conducted by the ARS-USDA has shown that greige (non-bleached) cotton can be made absorbent during the fiber hydroentangling process (of making a fabric) itself, when the (fiber entangling) water pressure is 125 Bar or higher. This discovery of converting greige (non-bleached) hydrophobic cotton into a hydrophilic/absorbent nonwoven fabric without the traditional scouring-cum-bleaching process is a significant research milestone and may easily eliminate the traditional process of scouring and perhaps also the bleaching process if a mechanically pre-cleaned cotton of satisfactory whiteness is selected as the raw stock material.
Technical Abstract: A studied has been conducted to determine the effect of water pressure in a commercial-grade Fleissner MiniJet hydroentanglement system on the absorbency of greige (non-bleached) cotton lint-based nonwoven fabric. The study has shown that a water pressure of 125 Bar or higher on only two high-pressure water jet heads (used in the study to form the fabric at a rate of 5 m/minute) almost totally removed the greige cotton’s inherent hydrophobic waxes and water-soluble sugars and thus rendered the fabric absorbent (hydrophilic). The AATCC TM97 Standard Extraction Test was used to determine the hexane (waxes) and water-soluble (sugars) contents and the AATCC Test Method 79-2007 was used to confirm absorbency of the fabric. This discovery indeed is a significant milestone in the development of greige cotton-based nonwovens because it could change the greige cotton’s native hydrophobic character into a desirable hydrophilic character for many end-use products and applications.