The Use of (Bio) Catalysts and Ultrasound in the pretreatment of cotton: Application on industrial scale as sustainable process.

(G.H.Bouwhuis and M.M.C.G.Warmoeskerken)

Last decades researchers proved the principle of the use of biocatalysts, bleach catalysts and ultrasound in the pretreatment of cotton. The desizing step in the pretreatment of cotton is generally accepted many decades ago. Cotton scouring is still done with high amounts of sodium hydroxide and high consumption of water and energy. Among other researchers we have, in our labaratories, demonstrated that the use of cutinase and pectinase for (bio) scouring cotton realizes a sufficient hydrophility for the following (bleaching) process. The combined use of pectinase and cutinase can be boosted by ultrasound. This is what we call process intensification. Recent research showed that it is possible to bleach cotton at low temperature using the MnTACN catalyst (manganese complex with triazacyclononane ligands). Based on these findings and expectations it is believed that reduction of water and energy can be realized by using these recently developed technologies.

The challenge is to describe the new pretreatment process in terms of installed base, water and energy consumption, process speed and effect of the treatment on the cloth and compare and graduate these findings with the conventional pretreatment processes. To realize a fast adaptation by the textile industry the process to be developed must run on present installed base with only minor adjustments. It has to be ascertained that the new process has economical and qualitative advantages and that it is possible to improve textile processing by using modern technology and contribute to the environmental need to reduce waste water production. Beside the technological aspects of the process we are also developing business models and business cases to show the financial attractiveness of the new process.