This year, Dr. Thidarat Nimchua, BIOTEC Senior Researcher and Team Leader of Enzyme Technology, Biorefinery and Bioproduct Technology Research Group, is honored with the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards by L'Oréal (Thailand) for her extraordinary work: “ENZease: Dual-activity Enzyme for One-step Biodesizing and Bioscouring Process of Cotton Fabrics.” The work revolves around the development of full-spectrum enzyme technology and utilization of enzyme produced by microorganisms in the textile industry.
Conventionally, the preparation process to produce cotton-based textiles involves desizing of starches that is applied to the yarn during weaving and scouring in order to remove natural impurities such as pectin and waxy materials. . The highly polluting industrial process causes severe environmental pollution owing to the use of toxic chemicals and dyes and large amount of energy consumption. Dr. Nimchua introduces ENZease, the “2-in-1” enzyme, which is developed and optimized for a fast, integrated enzyme-based pretreatment process, combining desizing and scouring steps into a single step for cotton fabric. ENZease is developed using series of cutting edge technologies, including high-throughput screening and identification of high-potential microbes that are capable of producing target enzymes, and enzyme production technology including fermentation, downstream and formulation in order to obtain a fast and eco-textile manufacturing process. The “2-in-1” enzyme provides amylase (the enzyme that can hydrolyses starch) and pectinase (the enzyme that can remove pectin and waxes), which are able to operate at the same pH and temperature range. With the use of ‘ENZease’, one-step process for desizing and scouring of cotton fabric could be established, making large scale operations simpler and cost-effective.
The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards are yearly presented to women in recognition of their scientific accomplishment and their remarkable commitment to make a difference in a field that still largely dominated by men. In Thailand, the L’Oréal ‘For Women in Science’ fellowship program established since 2002 offering a 250,000 baht grant to each of the selected Thai female researchers aged between 25-40 years across two categories: Life Science and Physical Science. Dr. Nimchua is among five outstanding Thai female scientists whose research works benefit communities, society, the environment, and the country.
Dr. Nimchua becomes the 12th BIOTEC researcher selected for this prestigious award. Her predecessors include Dr. Ubolsree Leartsakulpanich, Mrs. Wansika Kiatpathomchai, Dr. Lily Eurwilaichitr, Dr. Kallaya Dangtip, Dr. Kobkul Laoteng, Dr. Nitsara Karoonuthaisiri, Dr. Saengchan Senapin, Dr. Sansanee Noisakran, Dr. Jittima Piriyapongsa, Dr. Taridaporn Buajarern and Dr. Wirulda Pootakham who were honored in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018 respectively. In addition, Dr. Chawanee Thongpanchang, was named UNESCO-L'ORÉAL International Fellow in 2007.
Posted on 18 October 2019.