26 März 2008

Biotech enzyme challenges laundry bleach

Novozymes promises gentle and thorough cleansing with Cellulase

Anyone who has washed or worn white clothes knows that white shirts stop looking white after a few washes and start to turn a shade of gray. Same is the case with striped clothes as they tend to lose their contrast after a few washes and the white and colored stripes start to look dull. Wash and wear damages cotton fabrics, resulting in microscopic frayed fibers on the surface. The problem starts in the washing machine during a wash cycle – dirt particles released from the clothes circulate in the wash water. These dirt particles are attracted by the frayed cotton fibers, making clothes dirty and gray.

“Celluclean is a new technology for the detergent industry. By removing the damaged fibers on the surface of the fabric, the enzyme prevents dirt and other soilings from attaching to the clothes during wash,” says Anders Lund, Marketing Director for detergent at Novozymes. “With Celluclean, clothes are cleaner and do not get that dull gray look. And because Celluclean only removes the damaged fibers on the surface, it does not affect the fabric’s strength and durability.”

Whiter than bleach
Traditionally, detergent manufacturers have used bleach to keep white clothes white, but there are a number of drawbacks associated with bleach. Bleach does not clean clothes; it merely masks the dirt particles and furthermore, bleach cannot mask certain dirt particles from air pollution, traffic smoke, outdoor soil, and several other sources. In addition, bleach is not suitable for striped clothes because bleach will act on both the white and the colored stripes, making the colored stripe dull.

The end of oat stains
Celluclean keeps whites white and colors bright – and also breaks down beta-glucans, a sticky carbohydrate found in oats and barley. Since oats are present in a wide range of food and personal care products, including breakfast cereal, baby food, snacks, yoghurts, energy bars, soaps, face masks, and cosmetics – oat stains are nearly impossible to avoid and constitute a common laundry problem.

When beta-glucan stained clothes are washed, the beta-glucan spreads as a thin layer over the otherwise clean surface of clothes. This thin layer of beta-glucan acts like an adhesive, attaching dirt in the wash water to the fabric surface, and thus making clothes dirty and gray.

Editor’s note: According to Novozymes, Celluclean is a Cellulase type enzyme produced by genetically modified organisms.

(Cf. news of 2006-03-15 and 2005-02-24.)

Source: Novozymes, press release, 2008-03-26.

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