ENZbleach: An alkaline-tolerant enzyme for pulp bleaching process

In a conventional chemical bleaching process, a large scale of chemicals is used, releasing pollution into the environment and causing numerous harmful disturbances to ecosystem. The new biobleaching process using enzymes leads to a significant reduction of chlorine and chlorine-based compounds. The xylanase attacks hemicellulose and alters the interface between the cellulose and lignin, thereby facilitates the chemical extraction of lignin from pulp. For biobleaching applications, the candidate xylanase should be alkalophilic due to the high pH of the pulp. However, treatment of pulp with the commercial xylanases at present needs a pH adjustment of the incoming pulp from 9.0-10.0 to 5.0-8.0 for its optimal activity which leads to a rise in operational cost. To address this issue, ENZbleach has been developed and optimized for pulp biobleaching without the need of pH adjustment of the pulp, which will make the large-scale operations more simple and cost effective. Moreover, ENZbleach is a cellulase-free xylanase, thus does not destroy the structure of cellulose and diminish pulp quality.

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ENZbleach has been in the development by BIOTEC Enzyme Technology Laboratory, since 2008. The invention was unveiled at NSTDA Investors’ Day held on 22 September 2011, with Dr. Thidarat Nimchua, member of the research team winning the Best Presentation Award.

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Enzyme Technology Laboratory actively works with industrial partners, to realize applications of enzymes in various industries. These include the use of non-starch polysaccharide hydrolyzing enzymes and phytases in the animal feed industry, the application of lignocellulolytic enzymes in biomass conversion process of agro-industrial by-products to value-added products, such as biofuels, bio-plastics and chemicals and also application of cellulolytic/hemicellulolytic enzymes in the pulp and paper industry.

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Posted on 27 September 2011.

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