A device developed by an Agricultural Research Service engineer for use in cotton gins improves worker comfort and safety, reducing one source of noise by 80 percent.

W. Stanley Anthony, research leader of the ARS Cotton Ginning Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss., recently conducted a field trial in Marked Tree, Ark., in which standard doffing brush cylinders were replaced with quiet, solid-wound brush cylinders in lint cleaners.

The solid-wound brush can be used in several types of gin machinery, including the two leading sources of noise in gins: gin stands and lint cleaners. A gin stand is where fiber is removed from the cottonseed.

After cotton fiber is separated, lint cleaners then remove foreign matter and other contaminants that reduce the cotton's value.

During the field trial, noise levels while using both brushes were measured on a logarithmic scale. Noise levels were reduced from 94 decibels — measured on the logarithmic A-scale, used by industry to approximate the human ear — to 78 decibels, dramatically improving worker comfort. High noise levels in cotton gins can lead to hearing loss and decreased efficiency.

More than 40,000 bales were processed using the solid-wound brush without any operational problems.

Standard doffing brush cylinders have numerous brush sticks spaced about two inches apart around the perimeter of a large cylinder (typically 16-18 inches). As the cylinder turns, the sticks cause sound pulses at frequencies that irritate human ears. Solid-wound brushes have no pulse points; therefore, they do not generate noise pulses.

Although solid-wound brush cylinders are used for various purposes in other pieces of equipment, such as street sweepers, Anthony was the first to demonstrate that they could be used for noise reduction in cotton gins.

According to Anthony, solid-wound brush cylinders cost about as much as new standard brush cylinders. He is interested in cooperating with a brush manufacturer to develop a less-expensive refill for the solid-wound brush. Adoption of this technology in cotton gins would significantly reduce noise levels.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research

agency.