Enzymes In Detergents

939 Words4 Pages
Applications of enzymes in the detergent industry and issues in relation Yun Sol Bin S3-1 Enzymes are molecules that help speed up the metabolic reactions in living organisms. Enzymes are proteins and they are made inactive or denatured by high temperature or too high or too low pH. Enzymes work best at a particular temperature or pH, which can also be called “optimum pH” and “optimum temperature”. Enzymes are catalysts, so enzymes can be used over and over again. Each enzyme can only act on one type of substrate. This is said to be because both the enzyme and the substrate has specific shapes that fits into one another, this is often called the “lock and key model” (Neelam Gurung, Sumanta Ray, Sutapa Bose, and Vivek Rai). Therefore there…show more content…
Using enzymes in detergents dates back to 1913. It was a concept of using pancreatic enzymes (Helmut Uhlig). It spread more widely in 1960-70s, but several workers had allergic reactions. This was then, figured to be because of the dusty enzyme products, and as a result, “dust-free granulated enzymes” were used for detergents (Helmut Uhlig). Using enzymes in detergents enhances the ability to remove tough stains and also makes detergent ecofriendly (Neelam Gurung, Sumanta Ray, Sutapa Bose, and Vivek Rai). This is because unlike other chemicals, enzymes are biodegradable. They don’t leave harmful residues and don’t have negative impact on sewage treatment processes; this allows the amount of undesirable chemicals in detergents to be reduced (Grazia M. Borrelli and Daniela Trono ). Lipases, proteases cellulases and amylases are mainly used in detergents (Tony Godfrey, Stuart West). Proteases were the first type of enzymes to be introduced into the detergent industry and were used as catalysts in detergents since the 1960s to remove stains, proteases were used to clean protein containing stains like blood, egg, milk and grass (Jan H. van Ee, Onno Misset). Amylases are used to remove starch based stains mainly caused from food. Addition of lipases in detergents is particularly needed to remove fat-containing stains. (Grazia M. Borrelli and Daniela Trono…show more content…
One problem is the economic factor. Enzymes can only act within a narrow range of temperature and pH. This can also mean that enzymes have short lives; it is easily inactivated or denatured. It is fragile and expensive (Hacking). To make a good commercial product, it must be able to work at extremely high temperatures and pH, but enzymes with the current technology isn’t stable and active enough. Another problem is a legislative factor. Enzymes are subject to toxicological legislation in two ways. One is that enzymes may present harm to workers working in the enzyme industry (Hacking). One main example would be the workers having allergic reactions after the first enzyme detergent product became popular. Another is ingesting enzymes through food and medicine (Hacking). These problems are becoming more enhanced. As shown earlier on, the reason for the allergies was discovered to be because of dust, and dust free products were created. For the second point, new enzymes have to go through food processing and must be declared safe before commercial use (Hacking). However, enzymes from food product are easier to be cleared, but enzymes from non-food product have to go through long and complicated legislative process to be declared safe. However, the main point would of course be the cost

More about Enzymes In Detergents

Open Document