Enzymatic Treatments to Improve Mechanical Properties and Surface Hydrophobicity of Jute Fiber Membranes

Aixue Dong, Xuerong Fan, Qiang Wang, Yuanyuan Yu, Artur Cavaco-Paulo

Abstract


Fiber membranes prepared from jute fragments can be valuable, low cost, and renewable. They have broad application prospects in packing bags, geotextiles, filters, and composite reinforcements. Traditionally, chemical adhesives have been used to improve the properties of jute fiber membranes. A series of new laccase, laccase/mediator systems, and multi-enzyme synergisms were attempted. After the laccase treatment of jute fragments, the mechanical properties and surface hydrophobicity of the produced fiber membranes increased because of the cross-coupling of lignins with ether bonds mediated by laccase. The optimum conditions were a buffer pH of 4.5 and an incubation temperature of 60 °C with 0.92 U/mL laccase for 3 h. Laccase/guaiacol and laccase/alkali lignin treatments resulted in remarkable increases in the mechanical properties; in contrast, the laccase/2,2’-azino-bis-(3-ethylthiazoline-6-sulfonate) (ABTS) and laccase/2,6-dimethoxyphenol treatments led to a decrease. The laccase/ guaiacol system was favorable to the surface hydrophobicity of jute fiber membranes. However, the laccase/alkali lignin system had the opposite effect. Xylanase/laccase and cellulase/laccase combined treatments were able to enhance both the mechanical properties and the surface hydrophobicity of jute fiber membranes. Among these, cellulase/laccase treatment performed better; compared to mechanical properties, the surface hydrophobicity of the jute fiber membranes showed only a slight increase after the enzymatic multi-step processes.

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