Ginning


Once Valledupar's main economic produce; Cotton

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Gin equipment is designed to remove foreign matter, moisture, and cottonseed from raw seed cotton. Two types of gins are in common use—the saw gin and the roller gin. Saw gins are normally used for Upland cottons, whereas roller gins are used for the ELS (Pima) cottons. In a saw gin, the cotton enters the saw gin stand through a huller front and the saws grasp the seed cotton and draw it through widely spaced ribs. The ginning action is caused by a set of saws rotating  between a second set of narrowly spaced ginning ribs. The saw teeth pass between the ribs pulling the fiber through at the ginning point. The space is too narrow for the seed to pass and so the fiber is pulled from the seed. A roller gin consists of a ginning roll (covered with a compound cotton and rubber material), a stationary knife held against the roll, and a rotary knife. The rotating roll pulls the fiber under the stationary knife. The seeds cannot pass under the stationary knife and is separated from the fiber. The rotary knife then pushes the ginned seed away from the ginning point allowing room for more seed cotton to be ginned.

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Fig. 1. A modern gin stand that separates fiber from cottonseed.

Typical types of gin equipment are cylinder cleaners, stick machines, and lint cleaners for cleaning; hot air driers for removing moisture; gin stands for separating the fiber from the cottonseed; and the bale press for packaging the lint . The gin stand (Fig. 1) is actually the only item of equipment required to gin cotton, the other equipment is for trash removal and drying. About 636 kg of seed cotton is required to produce a bale (∼227 kg; 500 lb) of lint cotton from spindle-harvested cotton. The remainder consists of about 354-kg seed and 55-kg trash and moisture. Typical gins contain one to four individual gin stands, each rated at 6–15 bales/h. However, a few gins contain as many as eight gin stands and produce up to 100 bales/h. The greatest number [30,498] of gins existed in the United States in 1902. The majority were on plantations, and they processed 10.6 million bales (2.3 × 109 kg) of cotton (43). Since then the number of gins has declined, and the average number of bales processed per gin has increased. In 2000, a total of ∼1018 active gins handled a crop of 16,742,000 bales (∼3.65 × 109 kg) for an average of 16,446 bales (3.58 × 106 kg) per gin plant. The number of bales produced in the United States varies substantially from year to year, which places a severe financial burden on the ginning industry.

Mechanical harvesting systems were made possible by the invention of saw type lint-cleaning systems in the early 1950s. Lint cleaners enabled gins to remove from the cotton the additional trash that resulted from mechanical harvesting. The mechanical systems reduced the harvesting period from 4–5 months to ∼6–8 weeks of intensive operation. Severe congestion problems at the gin were eased with the storage of seed cotton in 8- to 15-bale, freestanding modules. Modules avoided the massive need for wheeled trailers during the compressed harvest season. Storage of seed cotton in modules increased rapidly from the 1970s onward, accounting for >90% of the crop in 2000. At present, the average U.S. cotton ginning capacity is ∼30 bales/h. A few gins process in excess of 100 bales/h.

Most of the U.S. gins are now operated as cooperatives or as corporations serving many cotton producers. Automatic devices do the work faster, more efficiently,and more economically than hand labor. High volume bulk seed cotton handling systems and hydraulic suction systems to remove cotton from modules, high volume trailers to get cotton into the gin, larger trailers and modules, increased processing rates for gin equipment, automatic controls, automated bale packaging and handling devices, and improved management have all increased efficiency.

After ginning, baled cotton is sampled so that grade and quality parameters can be determined (classification). The fiber quality/physical attributes affect the textile manufacturing efficiency and the quality of the finished product. Cotton bales are normally stored in warehouses in the form of highly compressed bales.The International Organization for  Standardization (ISO) specifies that bale dimensions should be of length 140 cm (55 in.), width 53.3 cm (21 in.), height 70–90 cm (27.6–35.4 in.), and density of 360–450 kg/m 3 (22.4–28 lb/ft 3) . Bales of cotton produced in the United States meet these dimensional standards. Bales of cotton packaged in accordance with these dimensions (ISO 8115) are not considered a flammable solid by the International Maritime Organization and the U.S. Department of Transportation for transportation purposes for vessel and other types of shipment  and are considered to present no measurable pest risk to the importing country. Baled cotton fiber is merchandized and shipped by the merchant to the textile
mill for manufacturing into products for the consumer. The seed is shipped directly for feeding to dairy cattle or to a cottonseed oil mill for crushing.

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