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Use of a Novel Extremophilic Xylanase for an Environmentally Friendly Industrial Bleaching of Kraft Pulps
Int. J. Mol. Sci.

Almeida N, Meyer V, Burnet A, Boucher J, Talens-Perales D, Pereira S, Ihalainen P, Levée T, Polaina J, Petit-Conil M, Camarero S, Pinto P
Xylanases can boost pulp bleachability in Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) processes, but their industrial implementation for producing bleached kraft pulps is not straightforward. It requires enzymes to be active and stable at the extreme conditions of alkalinity and high temperature typical of this industrial process; most commercial enzymes are unable to withstand these conditions. In this work, a novel highly thermo and alkaline-tolerant xylanase from Pseudothermotoga thermarum was overproduced in E. coli and tested as a bleaching booster of hardwood kraft pulps to save chlorine dioxide (ClO2) during ECF bleaching. The extremozyme-stage (EXZ) was carried out at 90 °C and pH 10.5 and optimised at lab scale on an industrial oxygen-delignified eucalyptus pulp, enabling us to save 15% ClO2 to reach the mill brightness, and with no detrimental effect on paper properties. Then, the EXZ-assisted bleaching sequence was validated at pilot scale under industrial conditions, achieving 25% ClO2 savings and reducing the generation of organochlorinated compounds (AOX) by 18%, while maintaining pulp quality and papermaking properties. Technology reproducibility was confirmed with another industrial kraft pulp from a mix of hardwoods. The new enzymatic technology constitutes a realistic step towards environmentally friendly production of kraft pulps through industrial integration of biotechnology.