Application of Biotechnology in Textile Industry

Application of Biotechnology in Textile Industry

Pallavi Sunil Gudulkar
Department of Textiles (Textile Chemistry)
DKTE’S Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner


Biotechnology is the application of biological systems found in organisms, or the utilization of living organisms themselves, to achieve technical advancements and adapt those advancements to multiple areas. Biotechnology is one such field that is transforming traditional textile production into environmentally friendly processing. Two significant drivers for the textile industry to integrate biotechnology in its different domains are consumer knowledge and expectations for higher-quality fabrics, as well as environmental awareness. Biotechnology also offers the prospect of innovative industrial processes that use less energy and focus on renewable resources. It’s vital to remember that biotechnology isn’t just about biology; it’s a truly interdisciplinary area that covers both natural and engineering sciences. The textile business is driven to conserve natural resources, decrease waste, and lower expenses. Traditional cloth dyeing, printing, and finishing processes use a lot of water and might result in hazardous waste as a by-product. Biotechnology, which consists of numerous enzymatic treatments, is utilized to minimize this.

biotechnology in textile

Objectives of the Application of Biotechnology in Textile:

  • To promote environmentally friendly textile production technology.
  • To conserve natural resources such as energy and chemicals.
  • To increase the end product’s quality.
  • To improve both the fundamental and applied knowledge needed to establish quality standards for evaluating textile materials using physical, chemical, and instrumental procedures.
  • To set standards and to provide quality characteristics for textile material assessment to non-textile end-users who are just starting out.
  • A familiarity of the structure-function links in textiles.
  • Assessing the impact of existing and new enzyme activity on the characteristics of textile materials.

Applications of Biotechnology in Textile Industry:
Applications of biotechnology in textile industry can be categories as follows:

  1. Improvement in natural fibers
  2. Novel fibers and polymers
  3. Degradation of Azo dyes
  4. Treatment of waste of textile manufacturing and processors
biotechnological application in textile
Fig: Biotechnological application in textile

1. Improvement in natural fibers
Biotechnology has the potential to play a key role in the development of entirely new polymeric materials, as well as the production of natural fibers with greatly improved and modified properties.

1.1 Cotton:
Solving the important issues connected with cotton crop cultivation, notably better insect, disease, and herbicide resistance, resulting in higher quality and yield. Cotton fiber with modified qualities, such as increased strength, length, appearance, maturity, and color, is being developed over time.

Bt cotton:
Bollgard cotton, often known as Bt cotton, was developed by inserting the cry1Ac gene, an insecticidal protein obtained from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, into cotton seeds to give them increased pest resistance. Bacillus thuringiensis is a gram-positive aerobic soil-dwelling bacteria that can produce four different types of toxins in a crystal proteinaceous form, the most important of which is δ-endotoxin.

Cotton that has been genetically modified has the cry1Ac gene in its genome and may thus produce its own crystal hazardous protein. When a bollworm attacks a cotton plant and eats any of its parts, it swallows the toxin described, which kills it. Bees, neuropterans, and ladybirds are not affected by the toxin. Cotton plants are protected from certain caterpillar species, but not from leaf lice. Bt cotton agriculture requires half the number of pesticides, resulting in less contamination of the soil, water, and air. Pesticide usage will be reduced in the long run, which will help farmers with allergic responses. The yield of Bt cotton with the same hybrid is 10–15 percent to even 25–30 percent higher than non-Bt cotton with the same hybrid.

Grower satisfaction with transgenic cotton is mostly owing to a number of important advantages, including cheaper production costs, simpler yet flexible management, and a lower environmental effect.

2. Novel fibers and polymers
Aside from improving and transforming existing natural fibers, the development of completely new sources of polymers, fibers, and auxiliary products based on techniques like bacterial fermentation, growth of fungal and microbial fiber masses, and production of fungal pigments etc.

2.1 Bacterial cellulose:
The fundamental component of a plant’s cell wall is cellulose. Bio cellulose, also known as bacterial cellulose, is produced by bacteria. The chemical structure of plant and bacterial cellulose is identical, but their chemical and physical properties are not. Biocellulose is made by growing acetic acid bacteria, such as acetobector acetic (1 x 2 to 1 x 3 mm in size), for 7 to 10 days at 30 degrees Celsius in a medium containing 5% sucrose, nitrogen, and salt. This bacterial strain creates a gel-like material with fine cellulose fibers that is too thin (approximately 20 – 50 mm in diameter) to be classified using traditional denier units. Aceto bector cellulose is chemically pure and free of lignin and hemicellulose. Extra cellulose polysaccharide in the form of ribbon-like gel sheets is used to make it. It has a high degree of crystallinity, a high degree of polymerization, strong tensile and tear strength, and a high degree of hydrophilicity.

Applications of bacterial cellulose:
It’s employed in microsurgery as an artificial blood vessel. A new sort of artificial leather with a gentle touch has been created using the ultra-fine filament. It is utilized as a temporary skin substitute and in wound healing dressings due to its hydrophilicity. Loudspeaker diaphragms are made from bacterial cellulose sheets. Sony has now commercialised high-quality headphones made from these bacterial cellulose sheets due to their excellent sound repeatability. It’s also utilized to make activated carbon fiber sheets, which are used to absorb harmful gases.

2.2 Bacterial polyester:
Polyester is produced by more than 100 bacterial species, including alcaligenes species, bacillus species, photosynthetic bacteria, and blue green algae. These microorganisms generate and store polyester, which can be used as an energy source in the same manner that animals and plants store energy in the form of glycogen and amylopectin in the case of starvation. Polyester generated in this manner is kept in the bacterial body as 0.5 to 1.0 micrometer-sized particles that can be removed using an organic solvent. A new approach for efficiently producing bacterial co-polymeric polyester by fermenting a suitable combination of bacteria and food was recently discovered.

Applications of bacterial polyester:
Using biodegradable polyester microcapsules encapsulating chemicals, a slow-release technology for agriculture chemicals is now being developed. These microcapsules progressively degrade in the soil and so release chemicals over time. Because bio polyester is biocompatible, it can also be used in medicine. Surgical sutures, gauze, bandages, and other materials produced with bacterial polyester that are used to treat bone fractures or deficiencies do not cause inflammation in the organs or tissues where they are administered. Bio polyester is also optically active and piezoelectric, making it useful in the fields of optics and electronics.

2.3 Spider silk:
Spider dragline silk is a flexible engineering material that may be used for a variety of functions. Dragline silk has mechanical qualities that are at least five times stronger than steel, twice as elastic as nylon, waterproof, and stretchable. Furthermore, it has the remarkable property of increasing the strain necessary to cause failure as the deformation rises. Spiders spin silk protein molecules into oriented strands by extruding an aqueous solution of the protein. The female garden cross spider has seven separate silk glands, each with its own set of features. They’re UV and flame resistant. They behave stiffly under initial stress due to a high Young’s modulus similar to aramid fibers, but as they approach the yield point, they become very elastic and their resistance to elongation decreases; finally, they break at elongation, which is comparable to polyamide fibers.

Applications of spider silk:
Spider silk fibers offer exceptional mechanical qualities and, more importantly, they are biodegradable. All of these characteristics, together with their biocompatibility, make them excellent for surgical microsutures, surgical meshes, and artificial ligaments in medicine. The diverse application areas of spider silk include bullet-proof clothing, wear-resistant lightweight clothes, ropes, nets, seat belts, parachutes, rust-free panels on motor vehicles or boats, biodegradable bottles, bandages, and surgical thread.

3. Degradation of azo dyes
Azo Dyes are the most common aromatic dyes, and they have a lot of commercial interest. Textile dyes are the most common application for these dyes. Dyes used in the textile industry, such as CI disperse green, CI disperse blue, and anthraquinone disperse dyes, are difficult to remove using traditional methods because they are resistant to aerobic digestion and are stable to light and oxidising agents like (hydrogen peroxide and potassium dichromate). These colors are cancerous to both animals and humans. The toxicity of the dye has been reported to be reduced to the permissible limit of discharge to the environment after biological treatment by bacteria, fungus, or combinations of both. The majority of azo dyes are water soluble and easily absorbed via the skin, posing a risk of cancer and allergic reactions, as well as being an eye irritant and extremely deadly if breathed or swallowed.

3.1 Microbial decolorization of dyes:
Textile industry effluents include reactive dye in concentrations ranging from 5-1500 mg LG1. Dye-contaminated wastewater processing is currently a major environmental issue. Activated sludge, chemical coagulation, carbon absorption, chemical oxidation, photo decomposition, electro-chemical treatment, reverse osmosis, hydrogen peroxide catalysis, and other traditional treatment methods To remove the dye. Chemical oxidation with sodium hypochlorite releases a large number of aromatic amines, which are carcinogenic or hazardous chemicals. Microorganisms can be employed to totally destroy azo dyes as an alternative to conventional methods since microorganisms reduce azo dyes by secreting enzymes such as laccase, azo reductase, peroxidase, and hydrogenase. The reduced forms of azo dyes are then processed into simpler chemicals and used as a source of energy. As a result, dye treatment focuses on microorganisms that may biodegrade and biosorb dye in wastewater.

4. Treatment of waste of textile manufacturing and processors
Desizing operations, as well as the use of NaOH in scouring and bleaching, result in a high chemical (COD) and biological (BOD) oxygen demand of effluent from the starch removal process, as well as a considerable salt concentration, and a high salt concentration. Scouring and bleaching effluents contain high alkalinity and pH. As a result, efficient treatment of effluent is required before it can be discharged to the lake or river from whence the water was obtained, or before it can be sprayed on land for restoration. Each of these types of effluent releases necessitates a permit and is governed by state, national, or both rules. Cotton scouring with alkaline chemicals needs a large amount of rinse water to decrease the fabric’s pH before adding more chemicals. Reduced water use is a constant industry aim, given the growing concern about water usage, both in terms of cost and environmental impact. In traditional alkaline scouring, energy consumption is also an environmental and fiscal concern.

Desizing, scouring, bleaching, and finishing are just a few of the wet textile pretreatment and finishing procedures that include enzymes (biostoning and biofinishing). Enzyme-based technology is more reliable and adaptable, and it uses less energy. In the textile sector, the application of enzymes satisfies the current demand for environmentally friendly operations.

4.1 Desizing using enzymes:
Before weaving, most cotton and cotton-polyester blend yarns are sized to strengthen them and improve their abrasion resistance. Since starches or modified starches constitute for more than 75% of all sizing agents used worldwide, amylases are frequently utilized to desize them. These enzymes degrade the starch polymer molecules into minute fragments that can be readily washed away or dissolved in hot water. Amylases are starch hydrolyzing enzymes. α- and β-amylase are the two most common forms of these enzymes. The α-amylase type is capable of breaking down long-chain carbohydrates at random positions throughout the starch chain, releasing maltose from amylose or maltose and glucose from amylopectin. α-amylase is utilized for textile desizing because it may work anywhere on the substrate and is therefore faster than β-amylase.

4.2 Bioscouring using enzymes:
Pectinases are the most common enzymes employed in bioscouring. They are used to remove the pectin lattice, the biological “glue,” from the fiber’s surface. In bioscouring, pectin lyases and pectate lyases, also known as transeliminases, are utilised. Cellulases may help pectinases by making the pectin substance more accessible to them. Proteases and lipases have also been used, although it appears that they only make a minimal difference in improving cotton’s wettability and retention qualities. It appears that combining different enzymes in the same treatment bath, such as pectinases and cellulases, increases wetting qualities and requires fewer enzyme dosage.

4.3 Bleaching using enzymes:
Bleaching whitens the fabric, ensuring that the yellowish background color of cotton has no effect on the dyed color. For a long time, reducing agents like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) have been employed. Because both hydrogen peroxide and peracid are unstable, the ability to synthesise peracids in situ is advantageous. Perhydrolase enzymes are capable of producing peracids. They accept hydrogen peroxide instead of water as the nucleophile, resulting in the presence of carboxylic acids during the conversion to corresponding peroxyacids. The usage of catalase enzyme results in a more ecologically friendly method that uses less water and takes less time.

4.4 Finishing using enzymes:
Garments are given a wash treatment in some methods, such as stone washing denim jeans to give them a somewhat worn appearance. Stone washing used to be done by fading blue denims with the abrasive action of pumice stones on the surface of the garment. The denim industry, however, has reduced or completely eliminated the usage of stones since the advent of cellulases, decreasing the harm caused by pumice stones to the garment and machine. In a process known as “biostonewashing,” cellulases hydrolyze exposed fibrils on the yarn’s surface, leaving the cotton fiber’s inside intact. Partially hydrolyzing the fiber’s surface eliminates some indigo, resulting in lighter regions on the fabric. A variety of cellulases are commercially available, each with unique qualities that can be used alone or in combination to achieve a certain effect.

In the textile sector, biotechnology plays a vital role. It is dependable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. Biotechnology is being used in numerous sections of the textile industry to make operations more efficient and time-saving.


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