Cotton may contain between 4 and 12% by weight of impurities in the form of waxes, proteins, pectin’s, ash, and miscellaneous substances such as pigments,hemicelluloses and reducing sugars. These impurities are removed from thefabric by scouring, since their hydrophobic nature negatively affects theenhancement of the fabric’s wettability and absorbency. In this work, pectinase, protease and cellulose were used in various combinations for different treatment times, either in the baths containing one enzyme or different enzymecombinations, in order to evaluate the effects of these enzymes on 100% cottonfabric’s wettability and absorbency.
Scouring is an important process that contributes toimproved quality in dyed fabric, from which foreign substances found on grayfabric coming from both primary and secondary sources (cotton wax, thickener,wax and knitting oil) are removed so that smooth progress is ensured in theprocess of dyeing. The scouring process removes much of the non-cellulosiccompounds naturally found in cotton. In addition to the natural non-cellulosicimpurities, scouring can remove residual manufacturing introduced materialssuch as spinning, coning or slashing lubricants. The scouring process employssodium hydroxide or related causticizing agents such as sodium carbonate,potassium hydroxide or mixtures thereof. Generally an alkali stable surfactant isadded to the process to enhance solubilization of hydrophobic compounds and/or prevent their redeposition back on the fabric. The treatment is generally at a hightemperature, 80"C - 100"C, employing strongly alkaline solutions of the scouringagent, e.g., pH 13-14. Due to the non-specific nature of chemical processes notonly are the impurities but the cellulose itself is attacked, leading to damages instrength or other desirable fabric properties. The softness of the cellulosic fabricis a function of residual natural cotton waxes. The non-specific nature of the hightemperature strongly alkaline scouring process cannot discriminate between thedesirable natural cotton lubricants and the manufacturing introduced lubricants.
Alkaline enzyme scouring of cotton textiles
The invention relates to a process for treatment of cellulosic material, as for example, knitted or woven cotton fabric, comprising thesteps of preparing an aqueous enzyme solution comprising pectinase, treatingthe cellulosic material with an effective amount of the aqueous enzyme solutionunder alkaline scouring conditions; e.g., pH of 9 or above and a temperature of 50° C. or above, in a low calcium or calcium-free environment, yielding amodification of the cellulosic material such that exhibits an enhanced respond toa subsequent chemical treatment.Traditionally, cotton scouring has required the use of harsh alkaline chemicals(caustic), extreme temperatures and large volumes of water. Expenses include