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DOI: 10.19202/j.cs.2016.02.13


Key words:

cotton, spontaneous combustion, hygroscopic materials.

Cotton is soft, fluffy staple fibers that grows in a boll or protective capsule. For many countries and regions cotton plays a significant role in the national economy since it is a commercial product.
Cotton is usually shipped in large square bales compressed to different degrees. In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture since cotton is strongly hygroscopic and readily absorbs moisture. It must be protected from water condensation as well as from high level of relative humidity. In addition, the cotton may swell by absorbing water vapor, resulting in an increase in volume of 40–45%.
Cotton has been assigned to Class 4.1 of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (Flammable solids) for several years. However, its specific characteristics and negative external influences may cause it to behave like a substance from Class 4.2 (Substances liable to spontaneous combustion) of the IMDG Code. Spontaneous combustion of cotton is one of the major challenges during cotton storage and transportation. Cotton fires during sea transportation were caused by spontaneous combustion. But in many cases, the combustion of cotton can only proceed in a small range due to limited initial burning and short supply of oxygen. 

Because of the importance of sorption and spontaneous combustion, particularly with respect to the storage and sea transportation of the cotton, the investigation has been conducted. The IMO standard has been used in this investigation.
The result indicated that the dry cotton is not to be self-heating materials. Once it is wetted or contaminated by vegetables oils, its thermal stability is decreased with lower onset temperature and with larger heat generation. That can result in spontaneous combustion. Relative humidity should not exceed 65%.

dr hab. Marzenna POPEK
Gdynia Maritime University
Faculty of Entrepreneurship and Quality Science
Department of Chemistry and Industrial Commodity Science
ul. Morska 83, 81-225 Gdynia, Poland
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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