Cotton 101: How a Cotton Gin Works

Cotton 101: How a Cotton Gin Works

modern cotton ginCotton gins. They haven’t changed the basic function since they were invented but I do know they have changed dramatically in size & speed. At the end of the day, all of them involve separating the seed from the lint. The vast majority of gin use a system of saws (think about the type used in a circular saw) pulling lint away from seed and through to a cleaning system. There are some gins that use a system of rollers rather than saws.

I need to shoot a video and do the voice over because I can’t find a really good one. The ones I find are either don’t include a voice over, don’t go step-by-step or are too long, HOWEVER, this video does a fairly good job of showing you around inside a gin. Since it doesn’t have voice overs, I’ll point out a few things.

  • After some overview footage, there is a shot of a module truck backing up and placing the module on a conveyor. Once in the machine, you can see some of the movement as the seed cotton is pulled apart by air. (By the way, before modules, cotton entered the gin by pulling a wagon up outside of the gin. A worker would use a vacuum shoot & angle it into areas of a trailer to feed cotton into the gin.)
  • Gin stands are the tall machines where you see cotton moving by at high speeds. Cotton is being piped in pneumatically to feed into the gin. As it comes into the stands (these say Lummus which is one of the major manufacturers). Safety guards are important as saw are whizzing along, pulling lint into another area that will blow through some cleaners to separate any leaf matter, etc. The seed is moved to another area and the woody gin trash to another.

At the end of the process, the gin has three different components to deal with lint, fuzzy seed and gin trash.  We will be getting to that soon too!

You can learn more about cotton in the series of Cotton 101 posts or on the Cotton 101 page.

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