In the 1990s, cellulolytic enzymes had been used by the textile industry to enhance cotton fabrics by giving them certain fashionable features. Examples of such features are the stone-washed look of denims that has become so popular, and the defuzzing and softening of other types of cotton textiles. Unfortunately, despite the economic and ecological benefits of using cellulase finishing, the results thus far were the use of crude mixtures that led to unacceptable degrees of fabric strength loss, as well as the overdosing of the enzymes that caused low replication rates of the processes. This consortium has re-designed the cellulase finishing process and has found a way of enhancing the advantages while eliminating the drawbacks of this method. The researchers have met the demands of the textile industry-they enabled augmented utilisation of enzyme finishing by designing cellulase processes that are better controlled. Advances in biotechnology allowed the isolation of individual enzyme components while recombinant DNA techniques led to the researchers' manipulation of the genes from cellulase secreting fungi. The skills gained from both these disciplines made it possible for the consortium to develop new strains that permit the industrial manufacture of new cellulase compositions and, consequently, new cellulase finishing effects. Specifically, cellulase components from genetically modified Trichoderma reesei strains were purified and their effects were tested on knitted and woven cotton fabrics. Then, optimised and tailor-made cellulase mixtures were created in keeping to the same parameters that would occur in real-life textile processing machinery. Furthermore, it is crucial to stress that the cellulase mixtures were optimised so as to improve handling and pilling control, while reducing fabric strength loss. These effects were achieved by studying the synergies between the enzyme components. As a final stage, and so as to ensure customer satisfaction, industrial quantities of the tailor-made cellulase mixtures were developed in order to run industrial tests that verified the biofinishing effects these mixtures had on woven and knitted fabrics. Clothing was produced with these tested fabrics so as to gauge real-life customer satisfaction. Thus, this innovative technology makes effective, ecological, and economical cellulase finishing possible in the wider market.
Biofinishing of Cotton Fabrics with Cellulases
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