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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Modifying Dew-Retted Flax Fiber and Yarns with a Secondary Enzymatic Treatment

Authors
item Evans, Jeff
item Akin, Danny
item Morrison Iii, Wiley
item Himmelsbach, David
item McAlister Iii, David
item Foulk, Jonn

Submitted to: Textile Research Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 21, 2003
Publication Date: April 30, 2003
Citation: EVANS, J.D., AKIN, D.E., MORRISON III, W.H., HIMMELSBACH, D.S., MCALISTER III, D.D., FOULK, J.A. MODIFICATION OF DEW-RETTED FLAX FIBER AND YARNS VIA SECONDARY ENZYMATIC TREATMENT. TEXTILE RESEARCH JOURNAL. 2003. v. 73(10). p. 901-906.

Interpretive Summary: Biobased fibers such as flax, which must be retted to separate fibers from the non-fiber components, are often of low or inconsistent quality. Consistency of fiber characteristics must be improved to add value to these agricultural crops and for sustainability. Collaborative studies involving scientists at the Russell Research and the Cotton Quality Research Station indicated, in preliminary work, methods whereby enzymes applied in a low-moisture condition could modify fiber and yarn properties. Results are important in providing a potential environmentally friendly, biotechnical approach to adding value to bio-based products towards sustainable agriculture.

Technical Abstract: Preliminary studies were carried out to test the application of various types of enzymes via atomization as a means of tailoring dew-retted flax fibers in a low moisture atmosphere. A series of chemical and physical tests were used to determine the effect of enzymes on fiber and blended yarns (50:50 flax:cotton). GLC analysis of post-treatment fiber washes demonstrated the treatment-induced release of fiber components (sugars), and concentrations varied with specific enzyme treatment. Lipase and cellulase treatment released the most sugars, likely due to structural disorganization of the fiber matrix. Glucose was the sugar most released by enzyme treatment. Mid-infrared spectroscopy of fiber mats indicated loss of carbohydrates and the presence of absorbed proteins following enzyme treatments. All treatments reduced fiber strength and elongation compared to non-treated fibers, with cellulase-treatment reducing fiber strength 56% of the non-treated control. Preliminary results with blended flax:cotton yarns indicated modifications due to treatment. All treatments reduced yarn strength and the occurrence of thick and thin places (i.e. irregularity). In general, lipase and arabinanase treatment invoked the most positive effect on yarn properties, including elongation, neps, and thick/thin places, although changes were small. These preliminary results suggest strategies to optimize enzyme treatments for improved textile properties.

Last Modified: 12/26/2014
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