Ecological washing of textiles with microbial surfactants

  • W. Kesting
  • M. Tummuscheit
  • H. Schacht
  • E. Schollmeyer
Part of the Progress in Colloid & Polymer Science book series (PROGCOLLOID, volume 101)


The pretreatment of textiles is very important for producing high qualitative endproducts in textile finishing processes. Various natural and synthetic fiber admixtures (natural polymers, sizing agents) must be removed from the fiber surface to prepare textiles for the next production steps. In addition to the mentioned substances the group of fiber preparations is to be considered. These are special formulations of lipophilic substances (mineral oils, natural oils, waxes), which are used as lubricants to obtain optimal friction behavior during the production of a fabric.

With regard to the removal of these lubricants problems may occur like impeded emulsification and possible oil redeposition on the fiber surface. Furthermore, conventional washing processes affect the environment, because in addition to the lubricants eliminated ecologically incompatible detergent components are used in the liquor-bath. For these reasons new technologies must be developed to facilitate effective and ecological compatible washing processes in the textile industry. The use of biotechnology offers interesting innovative attempts for solving these problems.

During the growth of micro-organisms lipophilic substrates like hydrocarbons certain microbial cultures produce a variety of surface active produce a variety of surface active substances, so-called biosurfactants. Such natural systems have a potential for ecological textile washing, where fiber preparations such as lubricants can be degraded. Biosurfactants have the function to increase the bioavailability of water-insoluble substrates. A large variety of biosurfactants has been reported. Actually, biosurfactants become more interesting for applications, because they present a much broader range of surfactant types and properties than the available synthetic surfactants. They are usually biodegradable, thus reducing the potential of environmental pollution. With regard to textile processing the use of biosurfactants offers interesting ecological applications. This paper reports the potential application of microbial surfactants in textile washing processes for removing various lipophilic preparations from fiber surfaces.

Key words

Biosurfactants textiles washing biotechnology microorganisms 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Kesting
    • 1
  • M. Tummuscheit
    • 1
  • H. Schacht
    • 1
  • E. Schollmeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Deutsches Textilforschungszentrum Nord-West e.V.KrefeldFRG

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