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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Cotton Ginning Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334311

Research Project: Enhancing the Quality, Utility, Sustainability and Environmental Impact of Western and Long-Staple Cotton through Improvements in Harvesting, Processing, and Utilization

Location: Cotton Ginning Research

Title: Energy utilization and conservation in cotton gins

item Funk, Paul
item Hardin Iv, Robert

Submitted to: Journal of Cotton Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/17/2017
Publication Date: 8/1/2017
Citation: Funk, P.A., Hardin IV, R.G. 2017. Energy utilization and conservation in cotton gins. Journal of Cotton Science. 21(2):156-166.

Interpretive Summary: Because energy is 25% of the cost of ginning, producers and industry stakeholders are interested in reducing consumption. And as consumers become more interested in the carbon footprint of their apparel, there is also social pressure to conserve energy. This article reviews the literature, presents recent consumption statistics, and summarizes current recommendations for saving electricity and dryer fuel used in post-harvest cotton processing.

Technical Abstract: A 2013 survey of cotton gins found that energy costs, electricity and dryer fuel, were $6.11 per bale, 25% of the total variable costs of ginning. Recent studies have found that average electricity use at gins is approximately 35 kWh per bale, more efficient than older studies. However, gins must continue to increase efficiency to remain profitable and consumers increasingly prefer more sustainable textile products. This manuscript reviews recent research on energy use and conservation in cotton gins and offers suggestions for gin managers to reduce energy use based on this research. Gins should focus on maximizing their ginning rate and sustaining this rate as much as possible during the ginning season. Increased ginning rates will reduce the per bale cost of not only electricity and fuel, but labor as well. Maintaining consistent material flow through the gin, matching equipment capacities, and minimizing downtime allows gins to produce more bales per shift. More than half the electricity at gins is used for material handling, primarily by the large centrifugal fans used to convey materials. The cost of conveying materials should be considered when designing or updating gins. Gins should only use the volume of air necessary for consistent conveying and adequate drying and need to eliminate unnecessary friction losses in conveying systems. To reduce fuel use, dryer control systems should be used to avoid excessive drying of cotton. Insulating drying systems may be economically feasible, particularly from the burner to the mixpoint. Gins should also consider strategies to reduce the prices paid for electricity and fuel.