Enzymes, Specialists in Fibrillation – Prediction of their Refining Performance

Oskar Haske-Cornelius, Gibson S. Nyanhongo, Georg Gübitz, Alexandra Hartmann, Wolfgang Bauer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The Austrian Pulp and Paper industry plays an essential role in the Austrian economy, providing jobs for more than 8000 people and consuming 4694 GWh electricity, which corresponds to 6.7 % of Austria's electricity consumption in 2013 [1]. Enzymes can help to reduce energy demand and make production steps more efficient. Around 30 % of the total electricity demand in a paper mill is caused by refining, the goal of which is the shortening and fibrillation of the cellulose fiber. Singh et. al. showed a reduction in energy demand of 30% using cellulases, but fiber quality was deteriorated [2]. Therefore easy methods for the prediction of enzyme actions are necessary for paper manufacturer. In an ongoing project called EnzPap scientists and industrial partners try to develop easy test methods to quantify essential activities in enzyme formulations. Next to classical activity measurements, enzyme analysis in this project involves purity determination, quantification of the protein content, storage tests and measurements of several paper related parameters. Simple and fast assay procedures are an important tool for paper producers to evaluate cost-benefit of a potential new enzyme on site. Purity tests can elucidate how many different individual enzymes a formulation contains. This information is of high importance considering the fact that cellulases are a mixture of several individual enzymes with different modes of action. One aim of EnzPap is to transfer knowledge to non-specialists in enzymology allowing them to choose the right enzyme formulation. EnzPap provides knowledge not only in the field of refining enzymes but also for surface starch conversion, deinking and wet end starch processing.

So far, EnzPap has demonstrated significant differences in lab scale activity tests of enzymes related to pH, temperature optima as well as regarding the required reaction time. Interestingly, the potential of the various enzyme preparations depends on the individual substrate to be treated. On that account, investigations about functional interactions of enzymes with different pulps were conducted. Additionally, influences of different pulp processing methods were elucidated, using simple test methods. Thereby, fiber length seems to be an important factor in accessibility for cellulases. This makes an internal investigation of potential new formulations for each manufacturer even more important. Scanning electron microscopy can help to visualize effects of enzyme on fibrillation. The effect of the enzyme treatment on different paper properties such as degree of refining or air permeability was elucidates. A further adoption of enzyme assays is needed to increase predictability. Usage of different substrates like soluble cellulose derivate may help to overcome these limitations. Investigating enzyme side activities will allow specific mixing of individual enzymes to adjust their action to individual requirements. All this contributes to an improved enzyme usage in the participating companies, helping them to withstand international competition in this globalized field of industry.
[1] A. Posch, T. Brudermann, N. Braschel, and M. Gabriel, “Strategic energy management in energy-intensive enterprises: a quantitative analysis of relevant factors in the Austrian paper and pulp industry,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 90, pp. 291 -299, 2015.
[2] S. Campus, “Cellulase-assisted refining optimization for saving electrical energy demand and pulp quality evaluation,” vol. 74, no. August, pp. 471 -475, 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2016
EventPaper and Biorefinery Conference - Messecenter Graz, Graz, Austria
Duration: 11 May 201612 May 2016


ConferencePaper and Biorefinery Conference


  • refining
  • enzymes
  • cellulase

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

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