Submitted to: American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Review
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2003
Publication Date: 9/11/2003
Citation: AKIN, D.E., HARDIN, I.R. THE CURRENT STATE OF THE APPLICATIONS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY. American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Review. 2003. PP. 189-195. Interpretive Summary: Information concerning biotechnology and textiles is increasing, but often research results are not collated. Scientists at the University of Georgia and the Russell Research Center combined to document the use of biotechnology for the textile industry as reported in three biannual international symposia. This information is useful to improve the efficiency of this industry and could have benefits for producers of natural fibers such as cotton and flax.
Technical Abstract: Much interest has been focused on the biotechnology of textiles by commercial entities such as enzyme manufacturers. From this perspective, the current use of enzymes for textile applications involves natural fibers almost exclusively, cotton being the dominant fiber of interest. Enzyme products already present in the market for industrial applications. Research, however, continues to be carried out to optimize or improve these commercial processes. A current interest is to combine enzyme treatments (e.g., bioscouring and biopolishing) to improve process efficiency by reducing time and costs. Other research seeks to expand the use of enzymes in cotton preparation, such as via bio-bleaching, which is an attractive concept, but currently too costly. Although the global volumes of other natural fibers are much lower than cotton, some have high value or special processing requirements, making enzyme treatments practical. For example, commercial enzyme products (proteases) are available for treatment of wool and silk and various enzymes have been tested for improving flax sliver and yarns. Of importance, but not yet realized commercially, are other applications, notably waste water decolorization and the use of enzymes to improve or modify synthetic fibers. The former area is particularly noteworthy, as indicated above, in the research using white rot fungi and their aromatic-degrading enzymes, where development has led to commercial start-ups of systems for decolorization of wastewater. Modification of synthetic fibers through enzyme application remains a challenge that promotes considerable research but no products as of yet.