Project Summaries

11-896  Project Manager: E. M. Barnes


Paul A. Funk and Robert G. Hardin, USDA-ARS

The public is concerned about environmental quality and energy sustainability. Cotton producers, gin owners and plant managers are concerned about rising energy prices. Both have an interest in current cotton gin energy consumption, and may also be interested in how it has changed over time. Information from energy audits and from Cotton Incorporated-sponsored monitoring studies were combined to estimate the electrical energy consumed per bale for five processing and five materials-handling categories. These values were compared to similar data published nearly fifty years ago. Though this time period saw a significant increase in labor productivity, replacing man-hours with machinery did not result in increased energy use. Bale packing energy consumption increased because gins now press bales to nearly twice the density compared to the early 1960s. Other processing categories decreased significantly. Trash handling decreased significantly despite the increasing energy burden of more stringent emissions regulations. Other materials-handling categories did not change as much. Total electrical energy consumed per unit of cotton processed decreased by 19% to 34% even as gin processing rates have increased three to six fold and as mechanization has made labor four to six times more productive. This is welcome news in a day when consumers are concerned about the carbon footprint of their apparel.


Project Year: 2012

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