Enzymes have been around mankind since thousands of years. They are living organisms and have been used to carry out chemical reactions to make items like cheese, beer and wine. As it has become crucial to reduce pollution in textile processing, the textile manufacturers have increased the use of enzymes in various textile processes. Today, enzymes are widely used and well known for their non-toxic and environment friendly nature.
Enzymes are obtained naturally from animal tissues and plant resources but most of them are obtained from microorganisms. Using enzymes gives deep insight of all the aspects of textile processing, basic biochemistry, enzymology and how it is used for industrial application. The use of enzyme is widely recognized in textile industry as each enzyme is used to create specific effect in each textile process.
Moreover, it works in moderate situations and speeds up the reactions. The commonly used enzymes in textile processes are amylases, catalase and laccase. These are used to remove the starch and scale down the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide, lignin and bleaching textiles.
Enzymes are safely used in the textile processes like de-sizing, scouring, bleaching, dyeing and finishing. Moreover, enzymes are used as substitute of harmful chemicals which pose environmental risks and hence are biodegradable. The latest development in enzyme application is using cellulases for denim finishing and lactases to remove the color from textile waste matter and textile bleaching.
Uses of Enzymes
Some important processes of textile wet processing which use enzymes have been discussed below:
Desizing: Earlier, fabrics were treated with acid, alkali or oxidizing agents to remove the size. Sometimes they were soaked in water for many days which naturally gave rise to microorganisms that would cut down the starch. But both these methods were hard to manage, time consuming and sometimes damaged or discolored the fabrics. However, this problem was solved by using enzymes as they removed starch without harming the fibres.