The potential of enzymes for bio-scouring and bio-bleaching of textile fibers is assessed in the EU-RTD project BPT. Scouring is the removal of non-cellulosic materials such as proteins, waxes and pectins from the cotton fibers. Bioscouring can replace the traditional process by using pectin-degrading enzymes as the most effective type of biocatalyst. Various new fungal and bacterial enzymes have been isolated and their substrate specificities have been studied. Differences in their action on model substrates has found to correlate to different behaviors in bioscouring. Bio-bleaching by controlled hydrogen peroxide production with glucose-oxidase after enzymatic degradation of starch and laccase based systems with mediators seem to be able to replace conventional bleaching techniques. The EU-RTD project BIOSYNTEX deals with the modification of synthetic fibers by enzymes. Recent investigations have shown, that the properties of synthetic fibers (e.g. PA, PAN, PES) can be improved by limited action of enzymes on the surface. The EU-RTD project PROTEX focuses on the development of new proteases to induce anti-shrinking behaviour to wool fibres. Preliminary results show the modified proteases do not enter the fibres limiting the modification to the surface. The influence of ultrasound to enhance heterogenous reactions in fibre modification is studied in the EU-RTD project ULTRATEC.
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