Industrial production of enzyme-modified wool fibers for machine-washable bed coverings




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Peer reviewed


Enzyme technology is explored on wool fibers to prevent shrinkage and consolidation behavior during washing of woolen bed coverings using normal household machine conditions. Enzyme modification of wool fibers after two different pretreatments has been realized on industrial scale. Enlarged proteolytic enzyme by chemical modification was applied successfully to prevent substantial fiber strength loss. Felt-ball analysis of the fibers as obtained from this industrial process showed substantial improvement in felting resistance. Further processing of these enzyme-modified fibers and finally integration in bed covering quilts have been executed successfully on industrial production lines. The observed fiber losses during processing were in the range of 4.5–6% which is comparable with that of nonmodified fibers. The machine-washability of these produced bed covering quilts was tested in a household washing machine using both wool and normal wash programs applied at different temperatures. It appeared that, contrary to the good washing results in terms of shrinkage and consolidation resistance using the wool program at moderate temperatures, this resistance is marginal when washed with the normal washing program with higher mechanical agitation level or with the wool program at elevated temperature. This result was different from that obtained with woolen fabrics and explained by the less-structured organisation of fibers within a fleece.



Enzymatic wool fiber modification, Enlarged protease, Hydrogen peroxide, Industrial processing, Machine-washable bed coverings


Lenting, H.B.M., Broekman, H, Guebitz, G.M., Kokol, V. and Shen, J. (2009) Industrial production of enzyme-modified wool fibers for machine-washable bed coverings. Biotechnology Journal, 4 (10), pp. 1441-1449


Research Institute

Institute of Art and Design