A device similar to circular saw blades mounted on a common shaft could put thousands of lost dollars back into the pockets of cotton growers.
The invention, developed by agricultural engineer Stanley Anthony, increases ginned lint yield by approximately 10 lbs./500-lb. bale. Anthony has figured out how to prevent the loss of marketable cotton fiber that is normally ejected by a gin's saw lint cleaner, and then disposed of with gin trash.
Anthony explains that about 20 lbs. of material per 500-lb. bale is normally lost during one stage of the lint-cleaning process at the gin. About half of that lint is the same length cotton fiber that eventually finds it way into ginned cotton bales. To remedy that loss of marketable fiber, he developed a new lint-cleaning system with an additional saw cylinder to prevent the good cotton fiber from being ejected with the waste
At the gin, harvested cotton is run through several cleaning machines, such as a stick machine, before separating the fiber from the cottonseed by the gin stand. After the lint is separated from the cottonseed, one or more lint cleaners remove foreign matter and other contaminants before the lint is packaged into 500-lb. bales.
“A typical lint cleaner has one saw cylinder in it,” Anthony says. “This new machine adds a second saw cylinder, which prevents the long cotton fiber from being ejected with undesirable fiber and trash such as grass, leaves and sticks. That second saw cylinder simply plucks the long fiber out and returns it to the lint stream. One doffing brush cylinder removes the fiber from both saw cylinders.”
Typical cotton gins use one or two lint cleaners when ginning cotton, depending on the marketing scheme of the cotton producer and the amount of trash in the cotton. This new dual-saw machinery is expected to eventually replace those lint cleaners.
“Many other types of ginning machinery already include this feature,” he says. “I simply added it to the lint cleaner to retain that additional cotton fiber.”
And that additional 10 lbs. of fiber per 500-lb. bale adds up quickly. Assuming an average yield of 1,000 lbs./acre, the use of Anthony's lint cleaner could equal over $10 more income per acre. If two lint cleaners are used to clean the cotton, even more good fiber is saved by the new lint cleaners, because the first lint cleaner can potentially recover 10 lbs. of cotton fiber while the second could save another 5 lbs. of fiber. Across an entire cotton farm, that's thousands of dollars more producers can take to the bank.
After testing Stanley's patented machine for several years in commercial gins, the USDA Agricultural Research Service licensed the dual-saw lint cleaner to Continental Eagle Corporation of Prattville, AL, for commercialization.
Studies at three textile mills indicate that fiber quality is maintained by the new machine.
“We turned over our designs and plans to Continental's research and development department, and they have borrowed the machine developed by USDA's ARS scientists to develop the prototype that eventually will be commercially manufactured for market,” Anthony says.
Anthony, who retired as supervisory agricultural engineer and research leader for the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Cotton Ginning Research Laboratory in Stoneville, MS, operates a private ginning consulting business. His firm, Enhanced Technologies, Inc., is based in Greenville, MS.