Home » Volume 17 / 2013 » Issue 3 »
Changes in Cotton Gin Energy Consumption Apportioned by 10 Functions
Paul A. Funk, Robert G. Hardin IV, S. Ed Hughs, and J. Clif Boykin
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The public is concerned about air quality and sustainability. Cotton producers, gin owners, and plant managers are concerned about rising energy prices. Both have an interest in cotton gin energy consumption trends. Changes in cotton gin energy consumption during the past 50 yr, a period of significant increase in labor productivity, were estimated to determine if replacing man-hours with machinery resulted in increased energy use. Data from recent audits and monitoring studies were combined to estimate energy consumption in total and for each of 10 processing or materials-handling functions. These values were compared to similar data published nearly 50 yr ago, by region and across the U.S. Bale formation energy consumption had increased because gins now press bales to nearly twice the density compared to the early 1960s. Other processing categories decreased significantly. Most materials-handling categories did not change much, but trash handling had decreased despite the increasing energy burden of more stringent emissions regulations. In total, electrical energy consumed per unit of cotton processed decreased by 19% to 34% even as gin processing rates increased three to six fold and mechanization has made labor four to six times more productive. This is welcome news when consumers are concerned about the carbon footprint of their apparel.