Over almost nine decades of its existence, ICAR-CIRCOT has been developing new technologies and machinery for better utilization of cotton and other textile fibres. Following are some of our success stories.
Cotton is a principal source of income for a large number of farmers and other stake holders in India. Fibre quality is a key factor determining cotton price and quality of cotton textile products. Fibre quality is mainly characterized by fibre length, strength and micronaire, and the textile industry has a preference for long and strong fibres of moderate micronaire for producing high-quality yarns.
Hence, cotton researchers strive to improve the inherent cotton fibre quality as per market requirement by different breeding methods and appropriate agronomic practices. The researchers require the first hand information of fibre quality parameters of a large number of samples while selecting a new strain for cross breeding. The quality of cotton was mostly assessed by visual inspection resulting in improper grading of cotton, which lowers the overall bale value. Average prices were offered to farmers irrespective of cotton quality. In addition, cotton traders, graders and ginners, etc. forecast the monetary return from cotton business by objectively assessing the fibre quality and ginning percentage of cotton before procurement.
The quality of cotton samples can only be assessed after ginning i.e. separation of fibres from cottonseed. Cotton used to be ginned in India on commercial size Double Roller (DR) and Saw Gins, which were infeasible for ginning of small cotton samples needed for assessing fibre quality attributes. A portable, standalone, small size ginning machine was needed for quick ginning of small quantity of a large number of samples for meeting the requirement of cotton breeders, traders, ginners, and farmers for preparation of seed for sowing. In absence of such a kind of machine in India, stakeholders either relied on Charkha type manually operated device for ginning of small quantity of samples or manual separation of fibres from raw cotton. Such a practice was time consuming and fibre quality results were also not representative of commercially ginned samples. There were some instances of import of small ginning machines from UK at very high cost. Therefore CIRCOT intended to develop portable ginning machines as a primary tool to assist researcher for evaluating the quality of new strains of cotton and in objective grading of the raw cotton based on its quality parameters in market yards/ginneries in order to ensure fair price to farmers. Farmers can themselves gin their seed cotton of straight varieties picked from their cotton field and the seeds for next sowing. It would further assist the ginner in proper grading and heaping of cotton so that quality bales are produced from Indian ginneries. Spinners will also get the desired and assured quality bales as per their end use.
ICAR-CIRCOT developed a lab size gin, named as CLOY (CIRCOT Laghu Otai Yantra) in late 90’s for ginning of about 5-6 kg seed cotton/hour. The CLOY consisted of a 300 mm long chrome leather roller, moving and fixed knife assembly and ginned seed storage chamber. The machine was connected with a single phase electric motor of 0.75 kW power so that it can be operated in rural areas where 3 phase electric power is not available. The technology was licensed to M/s. Precision Tooling Engineers, Nagpur for commercial production. The machine received tremendous success in the market within a few years of it launch. Based on customer feedback and market requirement, CIRCOT scientists in association with its licensee, brought out different variants of CLOY gin namely Lilliput, modified CLOY, HIPRO-High Production gin, SR 600-Single Roller 600 mm length gin, etc. in the market The ginning capacity of these portable gins varies from 5 – 25 kg seed cotton/hour. Realizing the importance of the CIRCOT lab model gin in commercial ginning plants, Technology Mission of Cotton (TMC) made this gin as an essential machinery for establishment of a modern ginnery in in India. Over 500 pieces of different variants of lab model gins are now in use in different ginneries, seed industries, research organizations, market yards, etc. In addition, a number of pieces of this machine were also exported to USA, Afghanistan and several African cotton growing nations.
IMPACT OF THE TECHNOLOGY
This technology helped Shri K. G. Bhatt, Proprietor, M/s. Precision Tooling Engineers, Nagpur in shaping and expanding his business many folds that provided him wide exposure and accolades in areas of textile and agricultural industries in India and abroad. He has received 2 awards from Govt. of Maharashtra, one award from Govt. of Karnataka and one award ICAR, New Delhi, especially for manufacturing high quality CIRCOT lab model gins. This machine was also awarded 2nd Best Agricultural Machinery by Govt. of Karnataka in 2006. Quality based evaluation of raw cotton helped the farmers to realize better prices to their produce and ginners and spinners were also assured of desired quality of the cotton for their end use.
ICAR- CIRCOT’s portable laboratory model cotton gins are widely adopted by cotton traders, farmers and researchers. These machines aids in objective assessment of cotton fibre quality leading to fair pricing to farmers and improvement in bale value. These machines are the import substitution and hence, saves a lot of foreign exchange.
Before 2,000 AD, Indian cottons were considered to be trashy despite being handpicked and being contaminated by wide range of impurities gathered during post-harvest handling till it reaches the spinning mills. The cotton is sold in the market based on its grade. The trash content in the cotton is the predominant parameter to decide the grade and value of the cotton.
For a reasonable price in the market, the baled cotton should contain minimal trash and free from contamination. Due to high trash content in Indian cotton, Indian spinners used to prefer the imported cotton. Hence the need for indigenous pre-cleaner was felt to improve the quality of the Indian cotton. Pre-cleaning removes the trash content from the seed cotton so as to improve the ginning performance and lint quality. The removal of trash content reduces wear and tear of ginning parts and machinery leading to improvement in ginning efficiency. To cater the needs of the ginning industry, CIRCOT has designed and developed inclined and horizontal pre-cleaners, which is an import substitute.
CIRCOT-Bajaj pre-cleaner consists of series of spiked cylinders, usually 4-6 in number arranged in an inclined manner that agitate and convey the seed cotton across cleaning surfaces. The cotton is fed uniformly along the length of the bottom most spiked cylinder. The cylinders are made to rotate at a definite speed in the anticlockwise direction. The rotational motion of the cylinders draws the cotton inside and agitates it across the grid surfaces and thereafter conveys the seed cotton across the cleaning surfaces containing small openings or slots underneath each cylinder. Foreign matter is dislodged from the cotton by the agitating and scrubbing action of the cylinders. The separated trash falls through the grids and gets conveyed to a trash chamber for disposal with the help of screw conveyor.
The technology was transferred to M/s. Bajaj Steel Industries Ltd, Nagpur in 1999 to manufacture the pre-cleaners named as CIRCOT–Bajaj pre-cleaner. This technology gave impetus to M/s. Bajaj Steel Industries Ltd, Nagpur to expand their business for manufacturing of pre-cleaning and automation system from mere manufacturing of double roller gins. CIRCOT–Bajaj pre-cleaner is an import substitute and results in improvement of ginning performance as well as lint quality in terms of reduction in contamination and increased bale value.
IMPACT OF THE TECHNOLOGY
As of now, more than 1000 pre-cleaners are being used in ginning industries in India as well as abroad. Technology Mission on Cotton MM-IV was launched in the year 2000 for the modernization of ginning and pressing industries in India. Under this scheme the CIRCOT–Bajaj Pre-cleaner was identified as the foremost and essential machine for modernization. Due to advent of this technology, the ginning scenario in the whole country has changed dramatically. The trash content in Indian cotton bales has come down to 2%. Use of pre-cleaner was the single most important factor for increase in export of Indian cottons. Increment in the earnings of ginning industry through the use of this technology by the way of reduction in trash content lead to bale value improvement of around Rs 2,500 crores. M/s. Bajaj Steel Industries, Nagpur diversified their original business based on this technology. CIRCOT licensed this technology in 1999 to Dr. M. K. Sharma, currently the Whole Time Director & CEO, of M/s. Bajaj Steel Industries Ltd, Nagpur for production on a commercial scale. Annually on an average of 60 to 70 pre-cleaning machines are sold by this company.
Nanotechnology, that has already revolutionized material science, pharma, electronics and industrial chemistry, is now spreading its wings in the fields of agriculture & allied sectors. ICAR-CIRCOT has taken the lead in ICAR system to explore the applications of nanotechnology in agriculture, cotton textiles and composites. ICAR-CIRCOT, Mumbai ventured into Nanotechnology from 2004 onwards to impart novel functional finishes to cotton textiles to impart antibacterial and UV protection properties using silver and zinc oxide nanopares.
Nanocellulose refers to cellulose polymer broken down to the nano-size range (1 nm = 10-9 m). The major attraction of nanocellulose is its high mechanical strength (Tensile strength = 1 to 10 GPa; Young’s modulus = 100 – 130 GPa), more surface area to volume ratio (50 – 200 m2/g), bio-degradability and novel rheological (shear-thinning) and optical properties. Cotton, bacterial cellulose, agro-biomass and woody biomass are the major raw materials for production of nanocellulose. Depending on the dimensions, nanocellulose is classified as Nano Crystalline Cellulose (NCC, aspect ratio < 100) and Nano Fibrillated Cellulose (NFC, aspect ratio > 100). The intrinsic architecture (crystalline structure with hydrogen bonding) of cellulose makes it highly energy demanding for conversion into nanocellulose. It has proven applications as (a) reinforcing agents in biocompostes, (b) additives in high-end papers & paints, (c) scratch resistant coating additives, (d) transparent display for electronics and (e) as carriers in drug delivery system.
With the generous support from NAIP-ICAR (2008), Institute successfully attempted the preparation of nanocellulose from cotton linters and cotton wastes by novel and energy-efficient chemo-mechanical process and obtained three process patents. ICAR through NAIP funded the establishment of nanocellulose pilot plant at CIRCOT, Mumbai with a budget outlay of Rs. 400 lakhs and a capacity of 10 kg per shift of 8 hours. This is a first of its kind in India and unique in the World that can use cotton biomass as the raw material. The objectives of nanocellulose pilot plant is to demonstrate ICAR-CIRCOT’s technology to various stakeholders, product development, technology incubation and licensing.
IMPACT OF THE TECHNOLOGY
In 2016, M/s. TKML from Coimbatore, as an incubatee at ICAR-CIRCOT, Mumbai collaborated with the Scientists to develop nanocellulose based formulation for use as lubricant to improve the spinning potential of cotton fibres. The development of various formulations was done at ICAR-CIRCOT, Mumbai and the evaluation of the formulations were done at M/s. TKML, Coimbatore. The best formulation was identified within six months and accepted by the party for commercial use in their factory. The conventional mixing oil used in the Industry is chemical based and also imparts oily feel to the hands of workers during the mixing process. The performance of developed nanocellulose formulation is 42% efficient than the commercial product in terms of reducing the yarn breaks during spinning and also, does not impart oily feel during the mixing process. The cost of the developed formulation is competitive along with their enhanced process efficiency.
ICAR-CIRCOT Nanocellulose is first of its kind nanomaterial being produced in India with an indigenous technology on a pilot scale of 10 kg per shift of 8 hours. Also, India’s first commercial utilization of nanocellulose was demonstrated by ICAR-CIRCOT to improve the spinning potential of cotton fibres in textile industry and 400 litres of nanocellulose suspension was sold in the year 2017. High end product development from cotton waste enhances the market value of cotton that in turn enhances the income of cotton growers.
The growing importance of quality in international trade is visible from the global appearance of more accredited laboratories in all fields for reliable quality reports, including cotton fibers. The quality assessment of cotton fibers through objective measurement by High volume instrument needs calibration using the Standard Reference Material (SRM), popularly known as ‘Calibration Cotton’.
Traditionally the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been supplying “Calibration cotton” all over the world. Considering the need of the country and with long experience in the field of cotton fiber quality assessment, ICAR sanctioned a project under revolving fund scheme to develop a standard reference material for cotton fibers. Since 1997, ICAR-CIRCOT manufactured & the Calibration Cotton for ICC mode of operation having the traceability at par with the USDA standards. Keeping the pace with Industrial needs, ICAR-CIRCOT is now manufacturing Calibration Cotton for both ICC and HVI modes of testing for High Volume Instrument.
The Calibration of Instruments (HVI) with standard reference material (SRM: “CALIBRATION COTTON”) is warranted to meet the requirements of ISO 9000 standards and ISO/IEC 17025:199 and to get accreditations from the accreditation body. This Standards Reference Material increases confidence in testing and reliability of test results. The selection of high quality raw material and process optimization will lead to higher profitability. Unnecessary arbitration between buyer & seller can be avoided by the acceptance of test results. Improved quality as well as process performance by adopting correct machine settings due to reliable results obtained from the calibrated instrument. Accuracy can be ensured by using genuine standard cotton and adjusting the tolerance level to the minimum possible limits. By proper calibration, the measured value can be brought as close to the true value.
ICAR-CIRCOT is supplying indigenously prepared cotton as reference material to spinning mills, cotton trading houses and various other organisations. Calibration cotton is supplied in a packet containing about 200 g of fibres, uniquely coded and labeled with various important fibre properties like span length, uniformity, micronaire, 3.2 mm gauge tenacity etc. It is expected that the inter packet variability in fibre properties be as low as possible so that the particular lot of reference material serves the need of many users simultaneously. Further, a user may ask for reference cotton with particular length or micronaire or strength value or their combination and as supplier ICAR-CIRCOT is able to supply it from its available stock with a minimum variation.
IMPACT OF THE TECHNOLOGY
The Institute has been able to create a customer base of more than 350 satisfied users with both the quality and service as gauged by their repeat orders. The users are from Government agencies, Private companies and Research Institutes. Overseas buyers from Italy also purchased this standard reference material. This product has not only served as replacement of import substitute but also a foreign exchange earner.
ICAR-CIRCOT has sold around 11500 boxes of 200 gm each amounting to Rs.70,00,000/-, approximately from 1997 to 2016. The foreign exchange that got saved is USD 1,15,000/- and also the hassles of importing is avoided. The trade and industry is moving from subjective assessment of quality to objective assessment for cotton transactions. As the plans are at the anvil to test as many bales as possible of the annual production of around 340 lakh bales and installation of more number of HVI equipment, the relevance of ICAR-CIRCOT Calibration Cotton is at the rise.
Calibration Cotton is an important import substitute and impact the income of large number of textile mills in India and abroad. As an indigenous technology at par in quality with international standards, this product saves the foreign exchange and reduces the supply time.
The global antimicrobial medical textiles market is expected to reach USD 799.7 million by the year 2024, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc®. Rising prevalence of chronic diseases, an upsurge in nosocomial infections worldwide, and growing awareness towards the better healthcare practices fuel the demand for the product over the forecast period.
The medical textile sector in India is largely dependent on imports due to the lack of domestic manufactures making these products and about 90 % of all disposable hygiene and medical textiles are imported (Textile Excellence, 2016). Manufacturing of medical textiles implies production of surgical gowns, surgical caps, surgical masks, blankets, surgical hosiery, etc. Textiles materials used in public places like railways, restaurants, hostels, hospitals etc are the main sources of cross-infection. In addition, cotton based textiles, though ideal with regard to comfort, act as an ideal substrate for the spread of pathogens due to its organic nature and high moisture retention capability. This is a major concern not only for public but, also for the healthcare workers. Hence, an indigenous technology for production of medical textile is the need of the hour.
Metallic salts that enhance the anti-microbial activity by killing microbes that bind to intracellular proteins and inactivates them are conventionally used in medical textiles in addition to various polymeric agents. ICAR-Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology (CIRCOT), has done a pioneering work in the field of nanotechnology in India and has developed technologies for synthesis and application of different nanomaterials in textile finishing for novel functional properties. The institute has developed a novel process for production of antimicrobial cotton bed sheets finished using nanoparticles of zinc oxide (nano ZnO) having the wash durability till 50 washes. The antimicrobial cotton bedsheets are made from 100% cotton fabric and nanofinished to impart both antimicrobial and UV light protection properties. The product inhibits bacterial growth by more than 99% against two representative pathogens, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus and efficiently blocks Ultra Violet (UV) radiation.
The ICAR-CIRCOT antimicrobial bed sheets provide an added layer of protection for patients admitted in hospitals against cross-infection. This product may also be suitable for surgery / ICU / maternity / orthopedic / isolation and burn wards where chances of infections are relatively high.
Impact of ICAR-CIRCOT’s Bed Sheet
M/s. Green Globe Mumbai, a startup registered in Mumbai and incubatee at ICAR-CIRCOT-ABI is venturing into commercial scale production of antimicrobial cotton bed sheets in line with Make in India programme of Government of India. First commercial production was done in a processing unit located at Andheri in Mumbai for 100 bed sheets. The performance of antimicrobial properties of the bedsheets during use and after wash were demonstrated at the All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai, which is an apex Institute under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Based on the promising results, large scale commercial production trial was done at Madhavnagar in Sangli, Maharashtra for 2,000 bed sheets. The incubatee is now carrying out test-marketing and promoting the product in renowned hospitals like AIIMS, New Delhi, RML Hospital New Delhi, and also in the Railways. This product also has a wide acceptance from KVIC and Self Help Groups for promotion and distribution. An entrepreneur from Kerala is also exploring the export oriented market for this product.
Cotton bed sheets finished with ICAR-CIRCOT’s unique technology is zinc based and avoid cross-infection in diversified users’ arena in addition to providing UV-protection capability. The additional cost to be incurred to use this technology is less than 15% of the overall cost of the bedsheet. The indigenously developed technology will add value to the cotton textiles and make them usable for high-end applications besides reducing our dependency on imported technology / materials.
Benefit to society
• Indigenous nano-based technology for the production of antimicrobial cotton bed sheets.
• Reduced cross-infection in public places including hospitals, railways, hotels, etc.
• Value addition to cotton textiles by increasing their use in medical textiles.