In a global context, where the environmental awareness of companies and institutions are growing, emphasis is given for researching new materials, having enhanced properties, to be obtained, using environmentally friendly methods. Enzymes catalyze coupling reactions, which have application potential in various areas. For example, the enzyme Laccases, functionalize cellulosic fibers to obtain internal sizing of paper or paper sheets having antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Also, Laccases can be used on wood surface, thereby improving the binding of fungicides. But, such types enzymatic reactions, usually take a lot of time, the production must be stopped for the reaction to take place, which is not feasible in industries. Creating a new product from cellulose is found to be complex and costly.
Researchers are focusing on developing a new enzymatic derivative product and methodologies which can be integrated into the industrial process, without affecting the production cost and without requiring big changes in the industrial equipments. CelBiotech paper research group at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTec (UPC), Terrassa Campus, has patented natural aqueous compound that gives advanced properties to any cellulose base material. The patent was outcome of one of the researcher, 29 year old, Oriol Cusola’s doctoral thesis. The new aqueous compound modifies the properties of paper and any other cellulosic material. Instead of the traditional chemical reagents, the compound use natural enzymes, which is biodegradable and as no impact on environment.
The invented product comprise of one enzyme (oxidoreductase type), along with a natural or synthetic product containing a phenol group or an alcohol group in its structure, that has optionally one or more hydrophobic chains, or at least a sterol group. The enzymatic product is prepared outside the application point. After obtaining the byproduct, it is applied directly on to the surface of the substrate to be modified.
The product has similar rheological properties to water, hence can be applied using simple methods such as, sprayers, immersions, or metering bar. The main advantage is that it is not required to be prepared for in situ application, but can be delivered as prepared product. Product is prepared at a high concentration and diluted before application. The surface treatment can be applied at various points of the machine, it can be applied at a low concentrations. Moreover, existing systems of the surface treatment can also be used. The product can be of interest for packaging industry, packaging development research, paper and food preservation research.