Enzymes for Detergent
For most people, the most popular known application of enzymes
is in the manufacture of enzymatic washing agents (detergents).
Since last 40 years, the use of enzymes in detergents has been
the largest of all enzyme applications. Consumers of detergents
are actual users of an enzymatic product. In majority of other
applications, enzymes are used as auxiliary agents at some point
in the manufacturing process and are not, as a rule, present in
the finished product - not at any rate in an active form.
Proteases are the most widely used enzymes in the detergent industry.
They remove protein stains such as grass, blood, egg and human
These organic stains have a tendency to adhere strongly to textile
fibres. The proteins act as glues, preventing the waterborne
detergent systems from removing some of the other components of
the soiling, such as pigments and street dirt.
The inefficiency of nonenzymatic detergents at removing
proteins can result in permanent stains due to oxidation and denaturing
caused by bleaching and drying. Blood, for example, will leave
a rustcoloured spot unless it is removed before bleaching.
Proteases hydrolyse proteins and break them down into more soluble
polypeptides or free amino acids. As a result of the combined
effect of surfactants and enzymes, stubborn stains can be removed
Though enzymes can easily digest protein stains, oily and fatty
stains have always been troublesome to remove. The trend towards
lower washing temperatures has made the removal of grease spots
an even bigger problem. This applies particularly to materials
made up of a blend of cotton and polyester. The lipase is capable
of removing fatty stains such as fats, butter, salad oil, sauces
and the tough stains on collars and cuffs.
Amylases are used to remove residues of starch-based foods like
potatoes, spaghetti, custards, gravies and chocolate. This type
of enzyme can be used in laundry detergents as well as in dishwashing
The development of detergent enzymes has mainly focused on enzymes
capable of removing stains. However, a cellulase enzyme has properties
enabling it to modify the structure of cellulose fibre on cotton
and cotton blends. When it is added to a detergent, it results
into the following effects:
Colour brightening-When garments made of cotton or cotton blends
have been washed several times, they tend to get a 'fluffy' look
and the colours become duller. This effect is due to the formation
of microfibrils that become partly detached from the main fibres.
The light falling on the garment is reflected back to a greater
extent giving the impression that the colour is duller. These
fibrils, however, can be degraded by the cellulase enzyme, restoring
a smooth surface to the fibre and restoring the garment to its
Softening-The enzyme also has a significant softening effect
on the fabric, probably due to the removal of the microfibrils.
Soil removal-Some dirt particles are trapped in the network of
microfibrils and are released when the microfibrils are removed
by the cellulase enzyme.
Maps offers a range of protease and lipase for various detergent
||Alkaline protease for removal of protein stains,
which works in alkaline pH conditions
||Alkaline lipase for removal of fatty and oil stains, which
works in alkaline pH conditions
At Maps, a project is already underway to develop an alkaline
cellulase for the detergent application.
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