The following points highlight the seven applications of enzyme biotechnology. The applications are: 1. De-Sizing of Cotton 2. Retting of Flax 3. Breakdown of Hydrogen Peroxide 4. Detergents 5. Novel Fibres 6. Polylactic Acid 7. Biodegradable Fibres.
Application # 1. De-Sizing of Cotton:
Untreated cotton threads can break easily when being woven into fabrics. To prevent this breakage, they are coated with a jelly-like substance through a process called sizing.
However, after the threads have been woven into fabrics, the agents needed to further finish the material cannot adhere to the jelly-coated fabrics. Thus, the protective sizing agents must be removed by a process called de-sizing. Amylase enzymes are widely used in de-sizing, as they do not weaken or affect cotton fibres, nor do they harm the environment.
Application # 2. Retting of Flax:
Flax plants are an important source of textile fibres. Useful flax fibres are separated from the plant’s tough stems through a process called retting. Traditional retting methods consume large quantities of water and energy. Bacteria, which may be bred or genetically engineered to contain necessary enzymes, can be used to make this a more energy efficient process.
Application # 3. Breakdown of Hydrogen Peroxide:
When cotton is bleached, a chemical called hydrogen peroxide, which can react with other dyes, remains on the fabric. Catalase enzymes specifically break down hydrogen peroxide and may be used to remove this reactive chemical before further dyeing.
Biostoning and Biopolishing:
Instead of using abrasive tools like pumice stones to create a stonewashed effect or to remove surface fuzz, cellulase enzymes may be used to effectively stonewash and polish fabrics without abrasively damaging the fibres.
Application # 4. Detergents:
Enzymes allow detergents to effectively clean clothes and remove stains. They can remove certain stains, such as those made by grass and sweat, more effectively than enzyme-free detergents. Without enzymes, a lot of energy would be required to create the high temperatures and vigorous shaking needed to clean clothes effectively.
Enzymes used in laundry detergents must be inexpensive, stable, and safe to use. Currently, only protease and amylase enzymes are incorporated into detergents. Lipase enzymes break down too easily in washing machines to be very useful in detergents. However, their stability is being studied and further developed through methods such as genetic screening and modification.
Application # 5. Novel Fibres (Production of Novel):
Synthetic fibres made from renewable sources of biomass are environmentally sustainable, and are becoming increasingly economically sustainable. Biodegradable synthetic polymers include novel fibres such as polyglycolic acid and polylactic acid, which are made from natural starting materials. Not all novel fibres are synthetic; they may also be naturally derived.
Some natural biological fibres come from basic materials found in nature, including:
A type of sugar polymer found in crustaceans
A type of protein found in animal connective tissue
A type of sugar polymer found in certain bacteria
A prime example of a synthetic biomass fibre is Polylactic Acid (PLA), which is made by fermenting cornstarch or glucose into lactic acid, and then chemically transforming it into a polymer fibre. With properties similar to other synthetic fibres, PLA based materials are durable with a silky feel, and may be blended with wool or cotton.
Application # 6. Polylactic Acid (PLA):
PLA has potential applications in several areas, including the following:
Clothing, fashions, upholstery
Plant mats, tree nets, soil erosion control products
Household wipes, diaper products
Disposable garments, medical textiles
PLA minimises environmental waste, as it may be fully biodegraded by microorganisms under appropriate conditions into carbon dioxide and water. Unlike the nonrenewable petroleum resources used to make traditional synthetic fibres, the supply of renewable corn biomass needed to make PLA is expected to surpass demand in the anticipated future.
Application # 7. Biodegradable Fibres:
Biodegradable synthetic fibres and natural biological fibres may be used to make textiles for medical applications. Such textiles may be used in first aid, clinical, and hygienic practices.
Some examples are described below:
Synthetic biomass fibres may also be used in drug delivery systems, which are designed to release drugs at a specified rate for a specified time.