New cotton gin technologies combine for big savings

Two new machines to improve cotton lint cleaning have been developed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to help cotton ginners avoid the loss of good fiber during processing.

Most cotton is currently processed with the same machine sequence, regardless of its specific needs — meaning good fiber is usually wasted as a result. That’s why W. Stanley Anthony, a recently retired ARS agricultural engineer in Stoneville, Miss., developed the new lint-cleaning machines.

The ARS Cotton Ginning Research Unit in Stoneville, where Stanley worked, is committed to helping solve problems facing domestic gins and give them a competitive edge.

The United States is a major producer of cotton, supplying about 20 percent of world output, but the ginning industry has faced many challenges in recent years. Although U.S. gins process more cotton now than they did a quarter century ago, the number of gins operating in the United States has declined from 2,254 in 1980 to 896 in 2004.

One of the new lint cleaners is called a dual-saw cleaner because it consists of a standard, saw-type lint cleaner with an added secondary saw that prevents loss of longer fibers ejected by the primary cleaning saw. This dual-saw cleaner retains about 6 pounds more good fiber per bale than a standard lint cleaner, with no significant difference in fiber quality.

Another versatile, patented cleaner combines a modified cylinder cleaner normally used for seed cotton with one or more lint cleaner saws, plus a secondary saw to prevent fiber loss. Several models are available, based on the needs of the industry, and the invention can also be used on other fibers. It prevents good fiber from being ejected with leaf, stick and stem particles, seed coat fragments and other trash that must be removed. If growers were to have their raw cotton ginned using the new technology, they could typically expect to earn $3 to $6 more per bale.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

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