Hydrophobins - protein protection against water and dirt
Hydrophobic properties are of great importance for numerous surfaces, in the case of textiles especially for outdoor products and surgical textiles, but also to protect fibres from microbial decomposition. In a joint project between Hohenstein and the Fraunhofer IGB in Straubing, a protein-based water- and dirt-repellent functionalisation for textiles was developed as a possible alternative to fluorocarbon chemistry.
The goal was an economically and sustainably stable functionalisation of cellulose-containing textiles and surfaces through biotechnologically produced fusion proteins. The function is based on hydrophobins - proteins that occur naturally in fungi, for example, to protect them from water and dirt - and the anchoring to the textile surface on specific cellulose binding domains. The fusion of the proteins by biotechnological production ensures effective binding to cellulose-containing structures and imparts water-repellent effects to the surface. The principles developed in the project can be transferred to numerous other applications and questions.