MARIE CURIE BIOTIC (Vincent Nierstrasz) (2008 - 2010)

Surface modification of synthetic fibres
Synthetic fibres form an important part of the textile industry, the production of polyester alone surpassing that of cotton. A disadvantage of synthetic fibres is their low hydrophilicity. Polyester fibres are particularly hydrophobic. This affects the processability and functionalisation of the fibres. A relatively new and promising alternative is the use of enzymes in surface modification of synthetic fibres. Synthetic materials have generally been considered resistant to biological degradation; recent developments demonstrate that enzymes are very well capable of hydrolysing synthetic materials. Enzymes, such as cutinases, have been reported to increase hydrophilicity of polyesters by hydrolysis of ester bonds. Enzymes will not penetrate into the material, and therefore not affect the bulk properties contrary to chemical treatments, and diffusion of enzymes over the surface will be relatively slow. This allows targeted functionalisation of the PET surface.

Incorporation of biocatalysts
The objective is to incorporate biocatalysts into synthetic fibres. Incorporation of biocatalysts will result in novel textile materials with new functionalities. Depending on the biocatalyst, incorporated components will be converted, detected, absorbed or released. Most biocatalysts perform optimally under ambient conditions, and will be damaged by e.g. high temperatures, high or low pH values or high salt concentrations. The challenge is to develop innovative technologies for the production of textile fibres while maintaining activity of the biocatalyst.

Supported by: EU FP7 Marie Curie Fellowship Vincent Nierstrasz (IEF n° PIEF-GA-2008-219665).

Duration: 04/2008 - 03/2010

Contact: Prof. Dr. ir. Lieva Van Langenhove