Enzymes in Textiles: Classification, Advantages and Application

What is Enzyme in Textile?
Enzymes are proteins, the spatial arrangement of which is typical, and occurs through helical segments, folding leaf structures, intramolecular associations, and, particularly, by the targeted incorporation of protin as an amino acid, which disturbs arrangement. It helps to accelerate chemical reactions without being consumed in the process. Each enzyme has a specific amino acid sequence.

enzymes polymer structure
Fig: Enzymes polymer structure

Enzymes are present in living organism and are themselves not living organism. Structurally they resemble protein of varying complexity based on chain of amino acid linked by peptide linkage. Each enzymes is different from other enzyme and the dept is due to-

  • Particular amino acid present
  • The order in which amino acid are linked
  • The presence of absence of metal ion
  • The conformation of structure as a whole.

Enzymes are used in various textiles processes to improve efficiency, reduce environmental impact, reduced water and energy consumption, lower chemical usage, and improved fabric quality.

Classification of Enzymes in Textiles:
Enzymes for textiles use can be classified as follows-

  1. Amylases
  2. Lipases
  3. Pectinase
  4. Cellulase

A short description of above enzymes are given below:

1. Amylases:
It convert amylose or amylopectin polymeric commonly referred to as starch into water soluble shorter chain sugars. It is isolated from bacteria, fungi, pancreases and malt.

2. Lipases:
Cotton waxes consists of various hydrocarbons, fatty alcohol and acids, and their respective esters. These fats and waxes are the major reason for the hydrophobic nature of unscoured cotton fibre. Lipases hydrolyses fat and oils into alcohol & organic acid.

3. Pectinase:
Pectinic compound as found in raw cotton mainly consist of neutral and acidic heteropolysaccharides with different molecular weight and degrees of esterification. Pectinases capable of hydrolyzing pectinic substances are generally enzyme complexes containing esterases and depolymerases with random or terminal activities.

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4. Cellulases:
Cellulases enhance the effect of pectinase to a certain extent and add softness to the cotton fabric. They often accompany pectinases in small amount. If used for scouring, cellulases hydrolyze cotton cellulose, lifting off non cellulosic impurities in the course of reaction.

Advantages of Enzymes in Textile Wet Processing:
Because of the properties of enzymes, they make the textile manufacturing process much more environmentally. Generally, they:

  1. Operate under milder conditions (temperature and pH) than conventional process chemicals – this results in lower energy costs ( up to 120 kg CO2 savings per ton of textile produced);
  2. Save water – reduction of water usage up to 19,000 liters per ton of textiles bleached;
  3. Are an alternative for toxic chemicals, making waste water easier and cheaper to treat.
  4. Are easy to control; do not attack the fiber structure with resulting loss of weight, resulting in better quality of material;
  5. Better and more uniform affinity for dyes;
  6. Contribute to safer working conditions through elimination of chemical treatments during production processes;
  7. Are fully biodegradable.

Application of Enzymes in Textile Processing Industry:
Some of the important commercial applications of enzymes in textile industry are point out below with specific enzymes name.

enzymes used in textiles
Fig: Enzymes used in textiles
  1. Desizing: Amylases
  2. Scouring: Pectinases, Lipases, Proteases
  3. Bleaching: Laccases, Peroxidases
  4. Bio-polishing: Cellulases
  5. Biostoning: Cellulases
  6. Denim abrasion and finishing: Cellulases
  7. Degumming: Proteases
  8. Dyeing: Catalases
  9. Softening: Various enzymes
  10. Wool Processing: Proteases
  11. Wastewater Treatment: Various enzymes

You may also like: Textile Wet Processing: Stages, Flowchart and Importance

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