Submitted to: World Cotton Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/4/2020
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Plastic contamination is a driving force behind the loss of $750 million U.S. in market value for cotton. As such the removal of plastic contamination from cotton is a top priority to the U.S. cotton industry. This presentation covers the development of a robotic plastic removal system. Results from testing the system in a commercial cotton gin showed a 90% efficiency for plastic removal. The presentation covers the system development and results of testing.
Technical Abstract: Plastic contamination is a driving force behind the loss of $750 million U.S. in market value. As such the removal of plastic contamination from cotton is a top priority to the U.S. cotton industry. One of the main sources of plastic contamination is the plastic module wrap from the John Deere round module harvesters. Plastic still finds a way into the cotton that is brought to the processing plant, despite diligent efforts by plant’s personnel to remove all plastic encountered during the unwrapping process of the incoming seed cotton storage modules. To help mitigate plastic contamination at the gin, we developed two systems; a passive system using low-cost ethernet security cameras to see plastic on the module feeder dispersing cylinders and an active system, which detects and ejects plastic from the seed cotton at the gin stand feeder. The first system provides video monitoring of the dispersing cylinders in the module feeder so that the gin crew can readily see any plastic on the cylinders. The second system utilizes a bank of embedded computers, that are each coupled with a low-cost cell-phone color imager to view the incoming cotton and automatically detect any plastic in the cotton. The units are gang mounted on the feeder apron above the gin stand (Vision Imaging Plastic Removal System, “VIPR”). When one of the embedded processors detects plastic, it actuates one or more pneumatic air knives to eject the plastic, out of the seed cotton and onto the floor in front of the gin stand. These systems were developed at the USDA-ARS cotton gin laboratories. The technology was tested at several commercial cotton gins and the results of the testing found the enhanced protection was elevated to over 90% efficacy. Results of the development and field evaluations are to be presented.