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Biotechnical functionalization of (bio)polymeric textile surfaces

Final Report Summary - BIOTIC (Biotechnical functionalization of (bio)polymeric textile surfaces)

Textile materials are extremely versatile materials, combining different materials and structures for a wide range of applications. Besides the well known applications, textiles are used in medical applications, e.g. wound treatment, sensors, artificial aortas and vascular grafts, but are also used abundantly in sport, vehicles, geo-textiles, aircraft, construction, agriculture, protection, defence, transport, packing/storage and chemical industry. The European textile industry is typically in a transformation from labour intensive products to knowledge intensive products and therefore the textile industry has a great demand for innovative high-tech materials with special properties and added functionalities, like smart textiles and biomedical textiles.

Biotechnology, or more specifically enzyme technology, has enormous potential for the production and synthesis of textile materials with advanced functionalities because of the high specificity of enzymes. The importance and potential of biotechnology in textiles has been assessed in the last years. Biocatalysis has already proven to be very profitable in industrial textile pre-treatment processes of natural fibres. Application of enzymes is not limited to biological materials, recently it has been demonstrated enzymes are able to modify the surfaces of synthetic textile materials as well. Taking into account the current international state of the art, today's scientific challenge is to make the enormous potential of biotechnology for the production and synthesis of textile materials with advanced functionalities an opportunity for the European textile industry.

The development of biotechnologically functionalised (bio-inspired) textile materials requires improved fundamental understanding of the relevant parameters and the development of novel biotechnological production processes for textiles that exhibit the desired functionalities.

The general aim of our research is to functionalise (bio)polymeric textile materials using modern biotechnology. Biotechnological surface modification of textile materials involves processing of fibres or (bio)polymers to modify the physical chemical surface properties or the introduction of functional groups on the surface.

The primary research objective of the proposed research was to generate new knowledge and to develop technologies to create textiles with unique surface properties and advanced functionalities using biotechnology. The research focused on:
- Enzymatic modification and functionalisation of PET.
- Chemo-enzymatic surface functionalisation of textile materials.
- Incorporation of biocatalysts into textile fibres.

Manipulation of surface characteristics of textile materials is of fundamental importance in the production of advanced functional textiles. While a lot of research focuses on chemical or physical modification of surfaces, the introduction of functionalities using biotechnology is a relatively unexplored and modern scientific area. The advantage of biotechnology or more specifically enzymes over other technologies is their high specificity towards a certain substrate.

The research resulted in new, specific knowledge and technologies to create biotechnologically modified textile materials with unique properties. The research contributes to bio-based economy through the development of novel processes for textiles exhibiting the desired functionalities and through development of novel enzyme technology for modification and functionalisation of surfaces.