Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/23/2001
Publication Date: 7/1/2002
Citation: Evans, J.D., Akin, D.E., Morrison Iii, W.H., Himmelsbach, D.S., Foulk, J.A. 2002. Modification of dew retted flax fibers by means of an air-atomized enzyme treatment. Textile Research Journal 72(7): 578-585. 2002.
Interpretive Summary: A major problem for the current method of extracting fibers from flax, i.e., dew-retting is inconsistent quality. This inconsistency, which can be primarily attributed to the presence of fiber-associated entities, affects downstream textile applications. Removal of the contaminating components can be accomplished via treatment with enzymes. However, the dry spinning process currently being implemented in the US for flax and flax/cotton processing precludes the use of large amounts of aqueous solutions. Therefore, a novel method to enzymatically treat dew-retted flax fibers was developed in this study which utilizes an air-atomization process to apply low volumes of enzyme solutions to dew-retted flax fibers. This technique allows enzymatic treatment of dew-retted flax fiber without impeding the dry spinning process and should further the establishment of a flax industry in the US.
Technical Abstract: The use of atomization as a vehicle for treating dew-retted flax fibers with enzymatic solutions was investigated. A cellulose/endoglucanase from Trichoderma reesei was applied via atomization to dew-retted fiber at concentrations of 0, 50, and 100 U. Enzyme activity post-atomization was verified by GLC analyses of sugars hydrolyzed from the treated fibers. Cellulase treatment resulted in the release of glucose and galactose moieties in a dose response manner. Further analysis by mid-IR spectroscopy of fiber mats showed little effect on fiber surface structure resulting from enzyme treatment. Visualization of treated flax fibers via polarized light microscopy revealed the presence of structural aberrations previously identified as nodes and cellulase/endoglucanase treatment coincided with fiber disruption at these regions. Determination of fiber strength also demonstrated a dose response effect with treatment with 50 and 100 U of enzyme yielding strength decreases of 17 and 56%,respectively Collectively, these results demonstrate the applicability of atomization as a means of applying enzymes for fiber modification and results also have implications on flax fiber structure.