Evaluation of UltraClean Cotton for Nonwovens Application

Period of Performance: 01/01/2010 - 12/31/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Wildwood Gin, Inc
Greenwood, MS 38930
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Domestic textile manufacturing has suffered a sad fate over the course of the last 15 years and competition with imported products has reduced capacity in the U.S. textile and apparel sectors, and the domestic textile industry no longer consumes the majority of the cotton produced in the United States. However, the nonwovens sector of the textiles industry is alive, healthy, and growing. In fact, this industry has grown by an annual average of 7 percent from 2003 to 2006, totaling 20.5 million bales (500 lbs.) of fiber, globally, and an annual average of 5.6 percent from 2003 to 2006, totaling 5.2 million bales of fiber, domestically. Nonwoven fabrics are broadly defined as sheet or web structures bonded together by entangling fiber or filaments mechanically by the use of needles (needlepunching) or by the use of high pressure water jets (hydroentangling). The majority of the fibers used in this industry, however, are manmade polymers such as polypropylene and polyester and cellulose-based manufactured fibers such as viscose and lyocell. Most of the cotton used in the nonwovens industry, albeit a very small amount, is bleached cotton fiber, which carries the burden of being both very costly and extremely difficult to manufacture due to poor processing characteristics. Understanding the need for improved cotton processing techniques, Wildwood Gin has discovered and perfected the technology to clean virgin bales of lint cotton to unprecedented levels of purity. Consequently, many nonwovens manufacturers began using their cotton product, trademarked UltraClean, for their various nonwoven products. The research in this proposal will be to quantify the effects that different fiber characteristics have on both the processing characteristics in the UltraClean and hydroentangling manufacturing line and on the performance of the finished nonwoven fabric. The data collected in this research will be used to better understand virgin cotton in nonwoven manufacturing lines and furnish nonwoven manufacturers with this information. The fiber data analyzed could help facilitate the engineering of a new cotton variety tailored specifically to nonwovens end uses. The production of this new fiber could decrease costs and increase yields exponentially for the American farmer.