|Hardin Iv, Robert
Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/2/2013
Publication Date: 10/17/2013
Citation: Hardin IV, R.G., Byler, R.K. 2013. Evaluation of seed cotton cleaning equipment performance at various processing rates. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(5):637-647.
Interpretive Summary: Gin manufacturers recommend seed cotton cleaning equipment processing rates of 1.5-2.5 bales/hr per ft of machine width. Surveys have shown that many gins exceed 3 bales/hr/ft, and some gins are capable of processing cotton at 4 bales/hr/ft. As the number of operating gins continues to decline, remaining gins will continue to increase production. Gins may increase ginning capacity without increasing the size of their seed cotton cleaning equipment, resulting in more gins with higher processing rates in seed cotton cleaning equipment. Previous research on this issue was conducted at lower rates than currently achieved by many commercial gins. Seed cotton was processed through a typical sequence of gin machinery for picker-harvested cotton- cylinder cleaner, stick machine, cylinder cleaner, extractor-feeder, gin stand, and lint cleaner. Five processing rates were tested from the recommended rate to over three times this rate, with various varieties and moisture contents. The amount of material removed by each cleaning machine was determined. Seed cotton and lint samples were collected to determine the foreign matter content and other fiber quality properties. Samples from the material removed by the cleaning machines were also collected to determine the amount of fiber lost, as some gin operators have suggested that high processing rates can increase fiber loss in seed cotton cleaners. Lower processing rates resulted in greater amounts of material removed by the first stage cylinder cleaner and the stick machine. These differences were often small, and the extractor-feeder and lint cleaner compensated for the poorer cleaning at higher rates. However, the processing rate through the extractor-feeder and lint cleaner was not varied in this test and was significantly lower than rates used in commercial gins. Consequently, further research needs to be done to determine the economic impact of higher processing rates in commercial gins. Fiber loss in the seed cotton cleaning equipment was low and unaffected by processing rate, except for one variety. Higher processing rates increased the amount of fiber loss for this variety; however, all rates with this variety lost significantly more fiber than any other variety. Further research is needed to identify characteristics of varieties that may lose significant amounts of fiber and to develop alternate processing strategies.
Technical Abstract: The processing rate per unit width of seed cotton cleaning equipment– cylinder cleaners and stick machines– recommended by manufacturers is 4.9-8.2 bales hr-1 m-1 (1.5-2.5 bales hr-1 ft-1). Survey data has indicated that many gins exceed this processing rate. Little research has been conducted with picker-harvested cotton, and higher rates that have been achieved in commercial gins have not been tested. Two independent experiments were performed to evaluate the effects of processing rates significantly higher than recommended. Seed cotton was processed through a typical sequence of gin machinery- cylinder cleaner, stick machine, cylinder cleaner, extractor-feeder, gin stand, and lint cleaner. The quantity of material removed by each cleaner was measured and the fiber content of the waste was determined. Foreign matter content of the seed cotton and ginned lint and fiber quality parameters were also measured. The first study tested four cultivars of cotton harvested in 2008. The second experiment tested two cultivars harvested in 2009 at two seed cotton moisture levels. Lower processing rates increased the amount of material removed by the first stage cylinder cleaner and stick machine. Five of six cultivars tested had low fiber loss from the seed cotton cleaning system, and this amount was unaffected by processing rate. The other cultivar had an average fiber loss of 3.37 kg bale-1 (7.43 lb bale-1), and processing rate significantly affected fiber loss from the stick machine. No effect on fiber quality due to processing rate was observed. More research is needed to determine the economic impact of higher than recommended processing rates, as extractor-feeders and lint cleaners may compensate for poorer cleaning, but were not tested at rates typically used in commercial gins.