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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Processing of Flax Fibers Using Enzyme Formulations

Authors
item Evans, Jeff
item Akin, Danny
item Adamsen, Anders - TJELE,DK-8830,DENMARK

Submitted to: Advances in Biotechnology for Textile Processing
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2002
Publication Date: December 1, 2002
Citation: EVANS, J.D., AKIN, D.E., ADAMSEN, A.P. PROCESSING OF FLAX FIBERS USING ENZYME FORMULATIONS. ADVANCES IN BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR TEXTILE PROCESSING. 2002. P. 139-146.

Interpretive Summary: The development of a commercially and economically efficient means to process flax fibers currently limits expansion of the flax fiber industry in the United States. The required process would result in the large scale release of fibers from harvested flax stems where they are normally bound by pectic components of the middle lamellae. Enzymes have been used to process flax fibers, yet a commercially viable process has not evolved. In this report, research thus far completed towards the development of an industrially efficient enzyme processing procedure is discussed. This report cumulates the information available towards development of an efficient retting process.

Technical Abstract: The development of a commercially and economically efficient means to process flax fibers currently limits expansion of the flax fiber industry in the United States. The required process would result in the large scale release of fibers from harvested flax stems where they are normally bound by pectic components of the middle lamellae. Previous research has demonstrated that this process to release fibers (i.e. retting) can be accomplished on a limited basis via various treatments including application of enzymes or chemicals such as chelators, acids, and alkalis. However, no commercially viable process has yet been developed. Currently, USDA research is proceeding toward the development of a commercial retting procedure involving the combined use of pectinolytic enzymes and chelators and a newly developed application procedure. Formulations that included multiple pectinolytic enzymes and chelators in various concentrations have been tested and fibers resulting from these formulations were analyzed for yield and strength, fineness, and elongation using modified cotton fiber tests. Fiber properties can be tailored with specific formulations and work continues to optimize the formulations based on cost and fiber traits for testing on a pilot plant level.

Last Modified: 4/24/2014
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