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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Cotton Fiber Bioscience and Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #396149

Research Project: Innovative Approaches for Value Added Cotton-Containing Nonwovens

Location: Cotton Fiber Bioscience and Utilization Research

Title: Interrelationships between cotton fiber quality traits and tensile properties of hydroentangled nonwoven fabrics

item Hinchliffe, Doug
item Thyssen, Gregory
item Condon, Brian
item Zeng, Linghe
item Hron, Rebecca
item Madison, Crista
item Jenkins, Johnie
item McCarty, Jack
item Delhom, Christopher - Chris
item Sui, Ruixiu

Submitted to: Journal of Industrial Textiles
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2023
Publication Date: 5/4/2023
Citation: Hinchliffe, D.J., Thyssen, G.N., Condon, B.D., Zeng, L., Hron, R.J., Madison, C.A., Jenkins, J.N., Mccarty Jr, J.C., Delhom, C.D., Sui, R. 2023. Interrelationships between cotton fiber quality traits and tensile properties of hydroentangled nonwoven fabrics. Journal of Industrial Textiles.

Interpretive Summary: Nonwoven textiles are produced by converting fibers directly into fabrics without the need for producing threads for weaving and knitting. Common nonwoven items included disposable wipes, disposable medical garments, and components used in products for feminine hygiene, diapers, and adult incontinence. The global use of cotton fibers for producing nonwoven fabrics continues to increase annually, however, the use of raw cotton fibers in sanitary, hygiene, and medical applications is a relatively new occurrence. Until recently, only costly scoured and bleached cotton fibers were used in these products. Determining the effects of raw cotton fiber properties on nonwoven fabric properties such as tensile strength are of critical importance to producers. This research indicated that cotton fibers can be selected for specific nonwoven end-use applications based on classification measurements. Inferior fibers that were too fine provided dramatically higher strength to lightweight hydroentangled fabrics. Longer and stronger fibers also contributed to higher strength of the lightweight nonwovens. The results suggested nonwovens manufacturers should selectively purchase cotton, particularly discounted bales, for use in specific nonwoven products. There is also the opportunity to increase utilization of bales with inferior micronaire that remained unpurchased due to processing constraints in textile mills. This presents the opportunity to selectively breed cotton varieties exclusively for nonwoven use and circumvent the negative linkage effects of yield and fiber quality especially for high micronaire fibers.

Technical Abstract: Cotton fibers can be used to produce nonwoven textiles suitable for numerous single use applications including hygiene, wipes, and medical products among others. Cotton comprises a relatively small amount of total raw materials used in nonwovens textile production compared to the synthetic fibers of polyester and polypropylene, but the use of cotton fibers in nonwovens continues to increase due to demand for disposable products containing natural, sustainable, and biodegradable materials. However, the relationship between cotton fiber classification measurements and nonwoven fabric physical and functional properties are not well characterized. In this study, cotton fibers with broad distributions of fiber quality measurements from ten recombinant inbred lines (RILs) of a multi parent advanced generation intercross (MAGIC) population were harvested and processed in their greige state into hydroentangled nonwoven fabrics of two distinct basis weights. Tensile testing of lightweight nonwovens indicated fiber length and strength were positively correlated with fabric strength, whereas micronaire was negatively correlated indicating finer fibers contributed to increased fabric strength. Increased strength of heavyweight fabrics was mainly correlated with higher fiber uniformity index. These results suggest that cotton fibers could be selectively sourced based on fiber quality for specific nonwoven applications and establishes alternative market opportunities for cotton fibers classified as inferior and subject to discount pricing in the woven textile market. Furthermore, these findings indicate nonwoven-specific high-yield cotton varieties can be developed through breeding selection independent of fiber quality parameters that are negatively linked to yield and result in increased production and revenue for cotton producers.