Enzymes for Detergent and Cleaning:

Enzymes have contributed greatly to the development and improvement of modern household and industrial detergents, the largest application area by far for enzymes today. They are effective at the moderate temperature and pH values that characterise modern laundering conditions, and in laundering, dishwashing, and industrial (I&I) cleaning, they contribute to in general,

• a better cleaning performance
• shorter washing times
• reduced energy consumption by enabling lowering washing temperatures
• reduced water consumption through more effective soil release
• minimal environmental impact since they are readily biodegradable and make it possible to reduce the alkali content in wash liquors
• environmentally friendlier washwater effluents
• rejuvenation of cotton fabric through the action of cellulases on fibres.

Furthermore, the fact that enzymes are renewable resources makes them attractive to use from an environmental point of view.

Enzymes are used as functional ingredients in detergents that clean laundry and dishes. They work in an efficient, environmentally sound and energy-saving way. Enzyme applications in detergents began in the early 1930s with the use of pancreatic enzymes in pre-soak solutions. It was the German scientist Otto Röhm who first patented the use of pancreatic enzymes in 1913. The enzymes were extracted from the pancreases of slaughtered animals and included proteases (both neutral and alkaline), cellulases, hemicellulases, alpha-amylases, lactases, sucrases, maltases and lipases. Today, enzymes are continuously growing in importance for detergent formulators. The most widely used detergent enzymes are from class of hydrolases, which remove soils formed from proteins, lipids and polysaccharides. Cellulase is a type of hydrolase that provides fabric care through selective reactions not previously possible when washing clothes. Looking to the future, research is currently being carried out into the possibility of extending the types of enzymes used in detergents.

Each of the major classes of detergent enzymes – proteases, lipases, amylases and cellulases – provides specific benefits for laundering and proteases and amylases for automatic dishwashing. Historically, proteases were the first to be used extensively in laundering. Today, they have been joined by lipases and amylases in increasing the effectiveness of detergents, especially for household laundering at lower temperatures and, in industrial cleaning operations, at lower pH. Cellulases contribute to cleaning and overall fabric care by rejuvenating or maintaining the appearance of washed cotton- based garments. The obvious advantages of enzymes make them universally acceptable for meeting consumer demands. The use of highly efficient enzymes, especially in concentrated detergent formulations, is of particular value to the formulator.

Soils and stains are removed by mechanical action assisted by enzymes, surfactants and builders. Proteases, amylases or lipases in heavy-duty detergents hydrolyse and solubilise substrate soils attached to fabrics or hard surfaces (e.g. dishes). Cellulases clean indirectly by hydrolysing glycosidic bonds. In this way, particulate soils attached to cotton microfibrils are removed. But the most desirable effects of cellulases are greater softness and improved colour brightness in worn cotton surfaces. Surfactants lower the surface tension at interfaces and enhance the repulsive force between the original soil, enzymatically degraded soil and fabric. Builders act to chelate, precipitate or ion-exchange calcium and magnesium salts, to provide alkalinity, to prevent soil redeposition, to provide buffering capacity and to inhibit corrosion. One of the driving forces behind the development of new enzymes or the modification of existing ones for detergents is to make enzymes more tolerant to other ingredients, e.g. builders, surfactants and bleaching chemicals, and to alkaline solutions. The trend towards lower laundry wash temperatures, at least in Europe, has also increased the need for additional enzymes. Starch and fat stains are relatively easy to remove in hot water, but the additional cleaning power provided by enzymes is required in cooler water.

AESL will shortly launch its new generation enzymes – Addclean series for detergent application shortly for effective stain removing replacing hazardous chemicals in detergents.

Enzymes for Membrane Cleaning in the Food Industry:

For many years, proteases have been used as minor functional ingredients in formulated detergent systems for cleaning reverse osmosis membranes. Now various enzymes are also used in the dairy and brewing industries for cleaning microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes, as well as for cleaning membranes used in fruit juice processing. As most proteinaceous stains or soils are complexes of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, beneficial synergistic effects can be obtained in some cases by combining different hydrolytic enzymes.

The requirements and dosages of enzymes for CIP and membrane cleaning are similar to those for laundry detergents and automatic dishwashing detergents. Typical enzymes used for membrane cleaning are proteases, amylases, cellulases, hemicellulases, xylanases, pectinases and lipase to some extent.

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