Industrial biologists at DuPont have spent more than a decade researching the biology and production of whole new classes of enzymes. Scientists have discovered innovative ways of coaxing these active proteins to do remarkable things, from increasing the range of temperatures in which new enzymes work to engineering others to able to convert the sugars in corn stalks and husks into ethanol.Detergent makers have been looking for years to create a cold-water product that’s as effective as warm-water concentrations. The protease enzymes in typical laundry detergent—the invisible machines that remove stains from clothes—work best in hot water. Heating water takes energy. Up to 80% of the energy home washing machines use comes from heating the water. Since Americans clean 123 million loads of laundry a day, an enzyme that remove stains at lower water temperatures would also remove about 40 million metric tons of CO2emissions from laundry energy use.
The cold-water enzyme has to be the equal of its warm-water cousin. According to consumer research, the majority of shoppers favor environmentally friendly choices, but can’t (or won’t) make tradeoffs on performance. DuPont has a strong interest in bio-based industrials and the accompanying expertise in enzymes. That's led to the development of cold-water protease enzyme technology. Or, put more simply, you can now get clean socks, even when you wash in cold water.
Biotechnology innovations born of a new industry have far-reaching benefits. Blending cross-industry research with market knowledge can make a real difference—one sock at a time.