OXIPRO Unveils Game-Changing Enzyme Innovations for Greener Textiles at ESOF 2024

OXIPRO and its three sister projects: ‘The Cluster Enzyme for Greener Products’, joined forces to showcase how our enzyme-based innovations may translate into a reduced environmental impact of our everyday lives and consumption at the European Science Open Forum (ESOF) from 12th to 15th June in this year’s ‘European City of Science’ Katowice, Poland. This international interdisciplinary event attracted a large gathering of leading scientists, policymakers, journalists, business leaders, and the public to discuss cutting-edge scientific advancements and their societal impacts.


EuroScience Open Forum is hosted in Katowice, Poland in June 2024. Photo: Bjerga


RadicalZ, one of the cluster projects, organized and hosted a roundtable event through its communication and dissemination partner Scienseed under the thematic area of ‘sustainable environment’. The aim was to show how the results of our projects are mitigating the effects of the human activities that put pressure on the natural environment: effects that are visible in terms of pollution, decreasing access to water, global climate change, decreasing biodiversity and other adverse impacts.


At the ESOF event, each project gave a ‘popular science’ introduction to a specific use case, in total representing all four consumer sectors: detergents, cosmetics, textiles and nutraceuticals.


OXIPRO’s Project Coordinator, Gro Bjerga (NORCE), presented the project’s groundbreaking results, describing how enzymes called oxidases may be used in the bio-bleaching process of textiles. OXIPRO’s use case promises a reduced need for harsh chemicals, lower energy requirements and less water usage, thereby resulting in a notably positive environmental impact.


As an example, textile processing of cotton involves several key steps, from preparing the raw fibers to finishing the fabric. Sizing involves applying a protective adhesive coating – starch – to yarns prior to weaving as this reduces breakage resulting from the weaving process. After weaving, desizing is performed to remove the starch. Here, enzymes called amylases have already impacted the industry, resulting in a remarkable increase in sustainability as well as reducing operational costs.


Bleaching whitens the fabric by removing natural colorants and any remaining impurities, preparing it for dyeing or finishing. At this stage, OXIPRO is harnessing the capacity of enzymes to produce peroxide or bio-bleach, thereby replacing the harsh chemicals used in traditional bleaching processes.


Roundtable discussion at ESOF 2024. Photo: Event host, RadicalZ.


From our reference case, chemicals are known to contribute to 50% of the climate impact (carbon footprint). If we assume that we are able to totally replace one specific chemical used in the traditional bleaching process, we may see a reduction of up to 10% of the climate impact of the enzyme-based innovation.


While 10% may sound insignificant, this does not consider further reductions resulting from the concomitant energy savings and chemicals costs. Moreover, from a global perspective, textile production is expected to grow to 145 million tons by 2030, and an incremental reduction in climate impact may have profound and widespread benefits, both in the short and long term.


At the heart of ESOF is the mission to bridge the gap between the scientific community and the general public. Thus, the cluster event provided a platform for interventions from the public in an open debate, giving the audience an opportunity to look at the use cases from different points of view, as well as enabling stakeholders to discuss current limitations and the next steps towards the implementation of enzyme research into the real world.


Finally, in concrete terms, industry expert and Chairman of the Advisory Board at KADIB, Mr. Manfred Kircher, recently certified as a bio-economy expert by the EU-Commission, outlined several key criteria that enzymes must meet to be successfully marketed and effectively used in various industries.


The event showed how our four pioneering projects are revolutionizing enzyme technologies, and with robust support from diverse stakeholders, they are poised to deliver greener, more sustainable solutions for key industries, fundamentally transforming our approach to environmental stewardship.


Top image: Speakers at the Round Table event. From left: Chairman Advisory Board at KADIB Manfred Kircher, Professor at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid Aurelio Hidalgo (coordinator of RadicalZ), Research Director at NORCE Gro Bjerga (coordinator of OXIPRO), European R&D Project manager at AITIIP Javier Pérez (representing Enxylascope), Research Professor at ICP-CSIC in Madrid Manuel Ferrer (coordinator of FuturEnzyme) and finally Science Communicator at Scienseed Nerea Felices. Photo: RadicalZ.


About ESOF

ESOF has been running every second year since 2004 and has since been an influential platform for dialogue and collaboration. The forum featured a diverse program including keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and exhibitions, all aimed at fostering innovation and addressing global challenges through science and technology.


Uncertainty surrounds the 2026 conference, after the association ESOF, EuroScience, failed to secure funding for the next event. Thus, in April, the European Commission launched an open call for a multi-city project called ‘Science Comes to Town’. In place of a single international event, the EC aims to connect citizens with science and scientists through a year-long series of events and activities.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *