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Foulk, J. A., Akin, D. E., and Dodd, R. B. (2008). "Influence of pectinolytic enzymes on retting effectiveness and resultant fiber properties," BioRes. 3(1), 155-169.


Enzymes have the potential to provide an improved method to ret flax for textile fibers. Retting is the separation or loosening of fiber bundles from the cuticularized epidermis and the woody core cells. New commercial pectinase products were evaluated both with and without ethylene-diaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) for retting efficiency. The Fried Test identified the most efficient enzymes and best retting conditions. All enzymes retted flax stems better in the presence of 18 mM EDTA. Pectinases that also contained cellulases reduced fiber strength, whereas those without cellulases effectively retted flax without substan-tial strength loss. Viscozyme, which has been used extensively in our enzyme-retting research, and several pectinolytic enzymes were compared in pilot plant scale tests. Texazym BFE and Bioprep 3000 L retted flax as well as Viscozyme in this system, and the fibers had higher tenacity. The monocomponent nature, commercial availability and price, and ability to ret flax in combination with EDTA at high pH indicated a potential advantage for Bioprep 3000 L in these tests. Retting with different enzymes and formulations resulted in fibers with different properties, thereby leading to protocols for tailored fiber characteristics.
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