Tech becomes new member of Association of Universities for Textiles
During an annual scientific conference on textiles in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the board of the Association of Universities for Textiles (AUTEX) on Friday (June 10) announced that Texas Tech University has been selected as its newest member.
AUTEX, an association of universities with an international reputation for textile education and research, was established in 1994. Headquartered in Ghent, Belgium, the group currently has 34 members from 28 countries.
Noureddine Abidi, an associate professor with Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science in addition to holding the position of associate director of the Texas Tech Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute, presented the candidacy for Texas Tech to become an AUTEX member. The AUTEX Board of Directors voted unanimously to accept the university as a member, citing the strong cotton research program currently underway at the school's research institute.
Tech's FBRI facility is equipped and staffed to conduct research and development activities ranging from small-scale testing through large-scale manufacturing. A fundamental objective is to foster greater use of the natural fibers and increase textile manufacturing in Texas.
Located five miles north of the main campus, the institute occupies 110,000 square feet of space allowing researchers to conduct testing and evaluation from the raw fiber stage through the finished textile product. Activities revolve around researching, testing, and evaluating natural and man-made fibers; production and evaluation of yarns and fabrics; alternative textile processing systems; dyeing and finishing; and special yarn and fabric treatments.
Recently Texas Tech FBRI researchers were awarded $425,478 from Cotton Inc. for a series of four projects addressing the challenges involved with producing cotton fiber competitive as a raw material on international spinning markets. Cotton is an indeterminate crop where bolls from the top of the plant are set later in the season and often develop under less than optimal conditions. Poor developmental conditions will lead to shorter fibers and a lack of cellulose deposition. When harvested with a stripper harvester, the primary harvest method on the High Plains, these top bolls will be included in the harvest.
The poorly developed immature fibers contributed by the top-crop will tend to break and entangle during mechanical processing (ginning, carding, etc.) leading to poor fiber length distribution and excessive nep count (fiber entanglement). In turn, this will result in poor yarn and fabric quality. Results obtained from a previous project demonstrated that some varieties produce more stable fiber quality profiles within the canopy. This led us to develop a project aimed at developing strategies for identifying germplasm with a more stable distribution of fiber quality within the canopy.
A second project, also aimed at improving textile performance, will concentrate on fiber elongation. The manufacture of stronger yarns depends on both the strength and elongation of the cotton fiber. However, most of the cotton breeding industry relies on High Volume Instrument (HVI) bundle strength while ignoring HVI elongation. The main reason for this lack of interest in elongation is the absence of HVI calibration for elongation in cotton.
Results obtained at the FBRI during the initial phase of this project reveal the HVI elongation measurement is stable and can be calibrated. In this phase of the project, a set of standards will be developed for implementing a calibration protocol, thus enabling the high speed evaluation of cotton fiber elongation. Improving fiber elongation of new cultivars, everything else being constant, will lead to less fiber breakage during mechanical processing, better fiber length distribution, and ultimately better textile products.
Cotton fiber length is not solely determined in the field. The natural development of cotton fiber, along with the mechanical processes required to transform the fiber from field to spun yarn, contribute to within sample variation in cotton fiber length. The within sample distribution of fiber length is believed to be encoded with information about variation in other fiber qualities such as maturity and fineness. The team at the FBRI developed a multivariate statistical method that provides a basis for direct analysis of these complex relationships. These relationships will be further investigated in an attempt to elucidate the impact of fiber maturity on the within sample distribution of fiber length.
Breeders need measurement protocols capable of capturing the within sample distribution of fiber length in order to develop cotton varieties of the future. The most widely used method of evaluating the within sample distribution of cotton fiber length, the Advanced Fiber Information System (AFIS), is too slow for application in most breeding programs. Attempts made at speeding up current AFIS protocols have not produced results suitable for breeding efforts. In the final project, new tools and novel measurement protocols will be investigated for evaluating within sample variation in cotton fiber length.
Officials note that AUTEX's mission is to facilitate co-operation amongst members in high level textile education and research. Among the organization's objectives are:
- Facilitate the growth of active research partnerships among members
- Encourage student and staff mobility and networking amongst members
- Promote the activities and achievements of the member universities on a global stage
- Organize annual symposia to disseminate cutting-edge issues to textile professionals and students
- Facilitate co-operation in development and delivery of high level courses and teaching materials among member universities
Written by Norman Martin
CONTACT: Eric Hequet, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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