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Dyeing Printing & Finishing

Wastewater-Treating Enzyme Could See Wider Use

The research team from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho Falls, Idaho, that discovered a naturally occurring catalase enzyme can break down hydrogen peroxide in wastewater is discussing collaborations with major enzyme manufacturers for industrial development (See “Dyeing, Printing & Finishing News,” TW, July 2003). Hydrogen peroxide may be used as an environmentally friendly textile bleaching agent.

The enzyme — derived from the Thermus brockianus bacterium found in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park — may be chemically bonded to plastic, sand-grain-sized beads, which may be packed into columns to filter wastewater and chemically change hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. The beads may be reused to treat more wastewater because the catalase, known as the Ultrastable Catalase Enzyme, has a half-life of 15 days, unlike the 15-second half-life of other catalase enzymes. It also is effective in environments that have extreme pHs and temperatures.

The INL team reports the catalase could be used in such industries as food preparation and packaging, and paper and pulp manufacturing.

INL Researcher Vicki Thompson holds a bottle of Ultrastable Catalase Enzyme, which breaks down hydrogen peroxide in wastewater.
January/February 2006