Cellusoft CR, Novozymes latest product, helps textile manufacturers to boost the quality and finish of their fabrics.

Most fabrics containing natural cotton fibres have tiny, loose or protruding yarns dotted over their surface, giving them a fuzzy texture. With repeated wearing and washing, these yarns break and their ends become tangled, resulting in pilling, which can make fairly new garments look old and worn. Bio-Polishing removes projecting fibres to improve the texture and appearance of fabrics. This not only creates a smoother fabric with resistance to pilling, but also improves softness, luster and drape. In short, Bio-Polished fabrics look better and last longer. Bio-Polishing uses a group of enzymes called cellulases. These enzymes have the ability to degrade cellulose, the basic structural building block of plants and the major constituent of other cellulosic fibres.

When the enzymes are applied to the fabric, they partially digest excess and protruding yarns, loosening them from the fabric. The resulting fuzz is then removed by high-speed mechanical agitation of the fabric, for example in a jet dyer.

Sensitive cellulases

However, this process has been hampered by the sensitivity of conventional Bio-Polishing enzymes to pH. Most cellulases will only operate effectively across a very narrow, acidic pH range. Even very small differences in pH can alter the performance and effect of the enzymes.

All this means that manufacturers must take great care to ensure that the solution is at the correct pH for the enzyme to work properly and that the pH is uniform throughout the solution. The processes taking place before Bio-Polishing, for example bleaching and dyeing, require a high, alkaline pH. Operators must therefore carefully adjust the pH of the solution by adding acid prior to Bio-Polishing.

The time taken to adjust the pH and wait for even circulation can significantly draw out the Bio-Polishing process. Seemingly trivial differences in pH between batches can lead to variability in the finish of the end product. Worse still, the acidic pH needed for optimum enzyme performance can reduce the dye retention of the fabric, resulting in color fading.

A new generation of Bio-Polishing

Novozymes latest product, Cellusoft CR, is an easy-to-use, fast-acting cellulase specially developed to improve Bio-Polishing in the textile industry. But what sets Cellusoft CR apart from the conventional cellulases used in Bio- Polishing? Han Kuilderd, mill industry manager at Novozymes, explains: Cellusoft CR is unique in that it allows Bio-Polishing under neutral conditions. The key advantage of Cellusoft CR is that it operates across a much wider pH range than the conventional cellulases used in Bio-Polishing. This eliminates the need to adjust the pH of the solution after dyeing or bleaching, reducing the total time needed for the Bio-Polishing process. Furthermore, because the enzyme can operate optimally over a wider pH range, small differences in pH do not affect the finish of the final product. In other words, Cellusoft CR ensures consistency of the end product with each and every batch.

There are other advantages too. Cellusoft CR has excellent color retention properties when used on dyed fabrics. It minimizes fabric weight loss in Bio-Polishing. And it produces a visibly smoother fabric with lower lint formation and higher tensile strength.

Cost-effective quality in no time

Bio-Polishing has the potential to give textile manufacturers a clear edge over their competitors. But up to now many have avoided Bio-Polishing altogether because of poor repeatability and the time needed to complete the process. Others only consider using Bio-Polishing as a remedial measure for fabrics in which pilling is identified as a problem.

With Cellusoft CR, Novozymes offers textile manufacturers a reliable, cost-effective Bio-Polishing solution. With its broad pH range (pH 5-8), Cellusoft CR can be easily incorporated into standard protocols to improve the quality of a multitude of fabrics. Cellusoft CR is ideal for all textile manufacturers, whether they are currently using Bio-Polishing or not, says Han Kuilderd. Besides the readily visible effects on fabric quality, the broad pH profile of Cellusoft CR will help manufacturers to reduce acid consumption, processing times and batch failures. And this ultimately adds up to cost-savings.

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