Why we need enzymes
Even though you may not be aware of it, enzymes play a very active role in your everyday life. Saturday afternoon, washing your clothes, you may not realize that enzymes are doing some of the dirty work for you. The detergent that you are using is most likely to contain enzymes that remove the dirt and greasy stains from your clothes. Relaxing in the sun, waiting for your clothes to be cleaned, you may need something to drink. The sweet taste of the soft drink comes from syrup, which is made using enzymes. You may get hungry: A loaf of bread would come in handy. Almost all the bread you buy in the supermarket is made with a little help from enzymes. Enzymes have been used for more than 50 years in the detergent, textile, food and feed industries, to name just a few. In these industries enzymes replace chemicals and minimize water, raw material and energy consumption. Nature's own technology provides us with environmentally friendly solutions and better products.
Enzymes are the natural solution to industrial problems
The environment is precious to us all. But in many areas nature suffers from the heavy impact of the western way of life. All companies have a responsibility to pursue sustainable solutions to their industrial processes, and in many cases enzymes can help them do it.
Chemicals used in industrial processes are one of the most severe threats to nature and man today. By using enzymes instead of chemicals, the problem is solved. Enzymes present no threat to the environment whatsoever. With enzymes we can maintain the living standards we have today and at the same time preserve the environment for our children.
And enzymes do not just replace chemicals. They also reduce the consumption of raw materials, energy and water, giving real benefits to both the environment and industry. As the world's leading producer of industrial enzymes, Novozymes cannot save the planet, but we can provide some of the tools to do it.
Enzymes wash your clothes at only 30oC
Chemicals clean your clothes at 90°C, but what a waste! Enzymes can do the same job at only 30°C. Reducing the temperature from 90° to 30°C means great savings on energy and money. Enzymes also replace chemicals in the detergent, which means a reduction in the amount of chemical waste from both industrial and household laundry. A third benefit of putting enzymes in detergents is that they can even make your clothes look better and last longer. So what's the catch? There isn't one. If you want to take care of nature and still wear clean clothes, let enzymes do the dirty work for you.
Enzymes stonewash your jeans
Stonewashed jeans are the height of fashion and, as the name suggests, the traditional way of producing stonewashed jeans is to wash the jeans with stones. This is a harsh treatment both for the jeans and for the environment. The fabric of the jeans is weakened and may appear flossy, whilst the lifespan of the jeans is far shorter than that of regular blue jeans.
By adding enzymes to the process there is no longer any need for stones in the wash. The look of the jeans is the same, but the process no longer damages the fabric and the jeans therefore last much longer. The process even saves on water, one of nature's most precious resources. When using enzymes to get the stonewash look, there is no need for several rinsing processes to get rid of the stones.
Enzymes make good bread better
The minute bread leaves the oven, the breakdown of the bread begins. It is the bread's starch content that is most "hard to please"; starch feeds on moisture, which is why bread becomes hard and unfit for consumption within a few days. By adding Novozymes' enzymes to the flour, it is possible to alter the structure of the starch in the bread so that it retains moisture better. This means that the bread remains soft for a longer period of time. Other enzymes make dough-handling much easier for the baker. Enzymes make the dough less sticky, which is a major benefit if you are making hundreds of loaves every morning. If you have ever wondered why bread from the bakers is larger and more airy, enzymes are once again the answer. Specialized enzymes can make the gluten of bread retain naturally-occurring gases that would otherwise disappear.
Enzymes make your leather soft
Natural, untreated leather is as stiff as metal. It therefore needs to be softened before use - and enzymes can do the job.
To make leather pliable, the raw material requires an enzyme treatment called bating, which takes place before tanning. This involves dissolving and washing the protein components that stiffen the leather. The degree of bating depends on the desired properties of the finished leather. Glove leather, for example, should be very soft and pliable and is subjected to strong bating, whereas leather for the soles of shoes is only lightly bated. In the old days, dog excrement was used in the bating process, the bacteria in the excrement producing enzymes to make the leather soft. The use of enzymes in industry today is rather more hygienic.
Hygiene is not the only advantage of using enzymes to treat leather products. Before leather becomes soft it undergoes several different treatments. Each treatment normally requires the use of large quantities of harsh chemicals. When removing hairs and fat from hides, enzymes can reduce the use of sulphide by 40%. Enzymes are also responsible for major reductions in the amounts of water used, as the replacement of chemicals reduces the rinsing and cleaning processes. Ultimately, a higher quality leather is achieved and the load on the environment is reduced.
Enzymes make cotton look like silk
Cotton treated with enzymes not only looks better, it also lasts longer. Most cotton fabrics tend to be fluffy from the minute they leave the shop. Treating the fabrics with Novozymes' unique Biopolishing enzymes removes the small hairs or fuzz that protrude from the surface of the yarn, leaving a smoother yarn surface that almost looks like silk. Biopolishing makes your clothes look brand new, even if you've washed them several times. Enzymes also play a major role in the textile industry in the desizing process. After weaving, the starch size has to be removed to prepare the fabric for the finishing steps of bleaching or dyeing. Starch-splitting enzymes are used to desize woven fabrics because of their highly efficient and specific way of desizing without harming the yarn.
Enzymes make the most of fruit juice
Crystal-clear juice and lots of it. This is the result of enzymes in the juice industry. The enzymes break down apple fibres, making the fruit more soluble and easier to press. Not only does this process give a much higher yield, but also a higher quality apple juice, because enzymes are able to make fruit juices completely clear. If you cut an apple in two, you will notice that the fruity part of the apple starts to turn brown. Enzymes are responsible for this process. If more enzymes are added, they speed up the process even further. By exploiting enzymes in the breakdown process, the pressing process becomes mush easier. The juice becomes crystal-clear and contains all the nutrients from the apple due to the enzymatic breakdown of the fibres. In the wine industry, the same principles are used to get all the juice out of the grapes without compromising the quality of the final product.
Enzymes turn corn starch into sugar syrup
Sugar is the expensive element of most sweet products like candy or cola. But there is an easy way to cheaper sweets. Enzymes enable corn, cassava or wheat/potato starch to be transformed into sugar syrup. The enzymes work by rearranging and cutting up the starch molecules, turning them into liquid sugar. When the process is complete, the syrups and modified starches, which have different compositions and physical properties, can be used in a wide variety of foodstuffs, including soft drinks, confectionery, meats, baked products, ice cream, sauces, baby food, tinned fruit, preserves, and much more.
Novozymes makes many specialized enzymes for the starch and sugar industries. Some of them also protect the environment. For example, one supplants the use of strong acids in the manufacture of sugar syrups. Others help manufacturers to produce products of higher quality, save energy and help ensure a safer working environment.