Cotton fiber

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cotton fibers in the scanning electron microscope
Cotton fibers in the scanning electron microscope
Fiber type

vegetable natural fiber


Cotton ( gossypium )



Fiber length 15-56 mm
Fiber diameter 12-35 µm
density 1.51 g / cm³
tensile strenght 287-800  MPa
Specific tensile strength 15–55 cN / tex (dry)
modulus of elasticity 4.5–11 GPa (dry)
Elongation at break 6–10% (dry)
Specific electrical resistance 10 7 Ωcm
Thermal conductivity 0.54 W / (m K)
Water absorption 8th %
Chemical resistance alkali but not acid resistant
Products textiles

The cotton fiber is a natural fiber obtained from the seed hairs of the plants of the genus cotton ( Gossypium ) is obtained. In the system of natural fibers, cotton is therefore one of the seed fibers. As an extension of its epidermis , the seed of the cotton forms longer hairs called lint and three to five days after flowering very short hair called linters. Only the long fibers , mostly spun into thin threads, are used for textiles, while the linters are only suitable for cellulose products .

Development and construction

The cotton fiber consists of a single cell , the primary wall of which grows out of the seed of the cotton until the fiber finally expands. This is then filled by a secondary wall. This is followed by a tertiary wall and finally a cavity, the lumen . In the cell plasma , cellulose is synthesized in an enzymatic complex through the chaining of glucose . About 40–100 cellulose molecules combine to form elementary fibrils. In these, the cellulose is in highly ordered crystal lattices. Several elementary fibrils, also called micelles, combine to form microfibrils , which in turn form macrofibrils.

The structure of the primary, secondary and tertiary walls is very different. The cellulose content is highest in the secondary wall, while the primary wall, which is a few tenths of a micrometer thick, only contains about 5% of the total cellulose content of the fiber. Besides cellulose, it mainly consists of pectins and waxes . There is little cellulose and a lot of impurities in the tertiary wall. It practically fulfills the function of a “filter” for the fiber.

The table shows the chemical composition of the primary wall, the entire fiber and any impurities such as accompanying vegetal substances, especially seed coats.

Composition of cotton fibers and their accompanying vegetable substances
component Cotton fiber (%) Primary wall (%) Vegetable accompanying substances (%)
Cellulose 88-96 52 23-28
Pectins / pectinates - 12 -
Pentosans - - 5-10
lignin - - 22-26
wax 0.4-1.0 7th 5-7
ash 0.7-1.6 14th 2.6-2.8
Proteins 1-2 12 2-4
Calcium 0.1 - 3.7
magnesium 0.07 - 0.7

The arrangement of the fibrils in the three walls is also very different. While the fibril strands are very irregularly arranged in the primary wall, in the secondary wall they are crossed in the manner of a helix structure and in the tertiary wall they are strictly parallel to the fiber axis.

Schematic cross section through a cotton fiber

The figure opposite shows a schematic cross section through a cotton fiber. The surface structure of the cotton fibers is flat, twisted and loop-like. The color of the fibers varies from creamy white to dirty gray, depending on the manufacturing or processing process. In contrast to many other natural fibers, cotton has only extremely low levels of lignin or pectin and only a very small amount of hemicellulose of around 5.7%. Thus the cotton fiber consists almost exclusively of highly crystalline cellulose , in addition to the wax layer of the cuticle .

Manual cleaning of cotton before spinning in India (2010)


When processing the cotton, only around 10% of the raw weight is lost. When the wax, protein and other plant residues are removed, a natural polymer made of cellulose remains . The special arrangement of the cellulose gives the cotton a high tear resistance. Each fiber consists of 20-30 layers of cellulose in a twisted structure. When the cotton ball - the fruit cluster of the cotton plant - is opened, the fibers dry and interlock. This shape is used for spinning into a very fine yarn.


Cotton is very absorbent and can absorb up to 32% of its weight in moisture without dripping. However, once cotton fabrics get wet, they dry slowly. In addition, cotton also has a high dirt and oil absorption capacity, but is also able to release them again. Cotton fabrics are very skin-friendly (they don't “scratch”) and have an extremely low allergy potential . These properties make them interesting for the textile industry.

Cotton is insoluble in water and more tear-resistant when damp or wet than when dry. The strengths and stiffnesses of the cotton fiber are lower than those of the bast fiber , the elasticity being significantly higher. The fibers are alkali but not acid resistant. Cotton is susceptible to attack by microorganisms , but it is quite resistant to moths and other insects. Cotton is easily flammable but can be boiled and sterilized.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Kim L. Pickering (ed.): "Properties and performance of natural-fiber composites", Woodhead Publishing Limited, Cambridge, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84569-267-4 .
  2. a b c d e W. Bobeth (Ed.): Textile Faserstoffe . Springer Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 1993, ISBN 3-540-55697-4 .
  3. ^ F. Denninger, E. Giese, H. Ostertag, A. Schenek: Textile and Model Lexicon . Deutscher Fachverlag, 2008, ISBN 3-87150-848-9 .
  4. HA Krässing: Cellulose: Structure, Accessibility and Reactivity . In: Polymer Monographs , Vol. 11. Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, Amsterdam 1993, ISBN 2-88124-798-9 .
  5. G. Richter: Metabolic Physiology of Plants - Physiology and Biochemistry of the Primary and Secondary Metabolism . 6th edition. Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-13-442006-6 , p. 249.
  6. JWS Hearle: Fibers, 2nd Structure . In: Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry . Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2007, doi: 10.1002 / 14356007.a25_345.pub2
  7. Natural and chemical fibers, bleach as a part of daily life . ( Memento of the original from December 25, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF) Fachinformationszentrum Chemie GmbH, p. 15  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. H.-K. Rouette: Handbuch Textilveredelung , Volume 1: Finishing . German specialist publisher, Frankfurt a. Main, 2006, ISBN 3-86641-012-3 .
  9. ^ AK Mohanty, M. Misra, LT Drzal (Ed.): Natural fibers, biopolymers, and biocomposites . Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton FL 2005, ISBN 0-8493-1741-X .
  10. ^ AK Mohanty, M. Misra, G. Hinrichsen: Biofibres, biodegradable polymers and biocomposites: An overview. Macromolecular Materials and Engineering . Edition 276/277, 2000, pp. 1-24.
  11. Alfons Hofer: Fabrics 1. Raw materials: fibers, yarns and effects. 8th edition. Deutscher Fachverlag, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-87150-671-0 , p. 76.