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Title:
METHODS OF IMPROVING SHRINK-RESISTANCE OF NATURAL FIBERS, SYNTHETIC FIBERS,OR MIXTURES THEREOF, OR FABRIC OR YARN COMPOSED OF NATURAL FIBERS, SYNTHETIC FIBERS, OR MIXTURES THEREOF
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2005/005710
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
Methods of improving shrink-resistance of natural fibers (e.g., wool, wool fibers, animal hair, cotton), synthetic fibers (e.g., acetate, nylon, polyester, viscose rayon), or blends thereof (e.g., wool/cotton blends), or fabrics or yarns composed of natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or blends thereof, involving contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e.g., Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton X-114), and optionally subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with protease and non-ionic surfactant and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer. The methods do not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid, chloroamines, peroxymonosulfuric acid, monoperoxyphthalic acid, permanganate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, or aminoplast resins.

Inventors:
CARDAMONE, Jeanette, M. (234 Birch Drive, Lafayette Hill, PA, 19444, US)
YAO, Jiming (371 Jones Avenue, Toronto, M4J3G5, CA)
Application Number:
US2004/020905
Publication Date:
January 20, 2005
Filing Date:
June 30, 2004
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, as represented by THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE (1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC, 20250-0302, US)
CARDAMONE, Jeanette, M. (234 Birch Drive, Lafayette Hill, PA, 19444, US)
YAO, Jiming (371 Jones Avenue, Toronto, M4J3G5, CA)
International Classes:
D06M11/38; D06M11/50; D06M11/54; D06M13/148; D06M13/207; D06M13/368; D06M13/432; D06M15/285; D06M15/53; D06M16/00; (IPC1-7): D06M/
Foreign References:
US3702776A1972-11-14
US6541438B12003-04-01
US20030092598A12003-05-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PENDORF, Stephan, A. et al. (Pendorf & Cutliff, 5111 Memorial HighwayTampa, FL, 33634-7356, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
We claim: 1. A method of improving shrink-resistance of natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or mixtures thereof, or fabrics or yams composed of natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or blends thereof, comprising contacting said fibers or fabric or yarn with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant, and optionally subsequently contacting said fibers or fabric or yarn with protease and non-ionic surfactant and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula : in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.
3. The method according to claim 1, said method comprising contacting said fibers or fabric or yam with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant, and subsequently contacting said fibers or fabric or yarn with protease and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.
4. The method according to claim 3, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula : in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.
5. The method according to claim 4, wherein x is 9 to 10.
6. The method according to claim 1, said method comprising contacting said fibers or fabric or yarn with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant; said method does not utilize protease.
7. The method according to claim 6, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula: in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.
8. The method according to claim 7, wherein x is 7 to 8.
9. The method according to claim 1, said method comprising contacting said fibers or fabric or yarn with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant, and subsequently contacting said fibers or fabric or yarn with protease, sodium sulfite, triethanolamine, and non-ionic surfactant, and optionally polyacrylamide polymer. 10. The method according to claim 9, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula: in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.
11. The method according to claim 10, wherein x is 7 to 8.
12. The method according to claim 1, wherein said method does not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid, chloroamines, peroxymonosulfuric acid, monoperoxyphthalic acid, permanganate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, or aminoplast resins.
13. The method according to claim 3, wherein x is 7 to 8 or 9 to 10.
14. A product produced by the method according to claim 1.
Description:

Methods of Improving Shrink-Resistance of Natural Fibers, Synthetic Fibers, or Mixtures Thereof, or Fabric or Yarn Composed of Natural Fibers, Synthetic Fibers, or Mixtures Thereof Background Of The Invention The present invention concerns methods of improving shrink-resistance of natural fibers (e. g., wool, wool fibers, animal hair, cotton), synthetic fibers (e. g. , acetate, nylon, polyester, viscose rayon), or blends thereof (e. g. , wool/cotton blends), or fabrics or yams composed of natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or blends thereof, involving contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton X-114), and optionally subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with protease and non-ionic surfactant and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer. The methods do not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid, chloroamines, peroxymonosulfuric acid, monoperoxyphthalic acid, permanganate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, or aminoplast resins.

The demand for shrinkage resistance in wool products has led to the development of effective chlorinated systems. However, the perceived drawback to their use is the production of adsorbable organic halogens (AOX). Thus alternative systems relying upon other compounds are now under investigation.

We now report on H2°2 processes, some wi protease enzne, md the selectivity of these processes to remove wool's hydrophobic layer and form anionic surface charge while causing scale smoothing to achieve shrinkage control. We also investigated alkaline peroxide/gluconic acid/dicyandiamide pretreatment followed by application of protease in buffered triethanolamine solution to which sodium sulfite was added.

Summary Of The Invention The present invention concerns methods of improving shrink-resistance of natural fibers (e. g., wool, wool fibers, animal hair, cotton), synthetic fibers (e. g., acetate, nylon, polyester, viscose rayon), or blends thereof (e. g. , wool/cotton blends), involving contacting the fibers with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide ; and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton X-114), and optionally subsequently contacting the fibers with protease and non-ionic surfactant and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer. The methods do not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid, chloroamines, peroxymonosulfuric acid, monoperoxyphthalic acid, permanganate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, or aminoplast resins.

The natural fibers (e. g. , wool, wool fibers, animal hair, cotton), synthetic fibers (e. g. , acetate, nylon, polyester, viscose rayon), or blends thereof (e. g. , wool/cotton blends) may be in the form of fabric or yarn. Thus the present invention concerns methods of improving shrink-resistance of fabrics or yarn of natural fibers (e. g. , wool, wool fibers, animal hair, cotton), synthetic fibers (e. g. , acetate, nylon, polyester, viscose rayon), or blends thereof (e. g., wool/cotton blends), involving contacting the fabric or yarn with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g., Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton S-114), 14), and optionally subsequently contacting the fabric or yarn with protease and non-ionic surfactant and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer. The methods do not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid, chloroamines, peroxymonosulfuric acid, monoperoxyphthalic acid, permanganate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, or aminoplast resins.

One aspect of the present invention involves contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yam) with NaOH, H2O2, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e.g., Triton X-100), and subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabries or yarn) with protease and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.

Another aspect of the present invention involves contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yarn) with MaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamlve7 and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. Triton X-1114) but not protease.

One preferred aspect of the present invention involves contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yam) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g., Triton X-114), and subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yarn) with protease, sodium sulfite, triethanolamine, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X-114), and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.

Brief Description Of The Drawings Figure 1 shows the catalytic mechanism of serine proteinases ; Figure 2 shows scanning electron micrographs of treated wool fibers ( (a)-fibers treated according to experiment 1 below; (b, c, d) -fibers treated according to experiment 8 below); Figure 3 shows reaction pathway for H202 activation by dicyandiamide at room temperature; Figure 4 shows effects of NaOH/H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, Triton X-100 pretreatments (#1, #4, #6, and #7 in Table I) and this pretreatment with sequential enzyme treatments (#2, #3, #5, and #8 in Table 1) on mechanical properties: (a) change in elongation at break ; (b) modulus ; and (c) energy to break ; Figure 5 shows confocal microscopic image of cross-sectioned wool fibers, # 79 (Table VI) ; Figure 6 shows scanning electron micrographs of fibers treated with NaOH/H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and Triton X-l 14 : (a) 1 g/L NaOH (# 61 (below)) ; (b) 3 g/L NaOH (#79 (below)) ; Figure 7 shows effects of NaOH/H2O2, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, Triton X-114 treatments on mechanical properties : (a) change in elongation at break; (b) modulus ; and (c) energy to break ; Figure 8 shows scanning electron micrographs of PAA/Triton X-114 treatments wii enzyme : (a) one-step, no protease; (b) one-step, 0.5% owf protease ; (c) one-step, 1.0% owf enzyme ; (d) one-step, 1. 5% protease; (e) two-step, #57 (Table VII below); (g) two-step, #99 (Table VII below) ; Figure 9 shows effects of NaOH/H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, Triton X-114 pretreatments with sequential PAA/enzyme, Triton X-114 treatment on mechanical properties: (a) breaking strength ; (b) elongation at break; (c) energy to break; and (d) modulus; Figure 10 shows TLC plates showing lipid 18-4A standards (s) in progression from polar to nonpolar as follows: cholesterol (c, standard for sterol), oleic acid (oa, standard for free fatty acid), methyl oleate (mo), triolein (to), and cholesteryl oleate (co): (a) saponified 18-MEA methyl ester, duplicate columns 2 and 4 from the left, each show a spot in the fatty acid region of the 18-4A standard mixture; (b) pretreatment spent bath (column 2) and enzyme spent bath (column 3) are similar and show both sterol and fatty acid and column 3 is the first portion on 18-MEA recovery from saponification and acidification of 18-MEA methyl ester; (c) pretreatment bath before use (column 2 from the left) shows no fatty acid whereas in column 3, the TLC of the spent pretreatment bath shows the presence of fatty acid, as does the spent enzyme bath represented by column 4; developing solvent was 80 : 20: 1 hexane : diethyl ether: acetic acid and visualization was by 10% sulfuric acid in methanol and charring ; Figure 11 shows IR transmission spectra to document the presence of 18-MEA in solution : (a) 18-MEA from hydrolyzed 18-MEA methyl ester purchased from Ultra Scientific, RI ; (b) pretreatment bath without wool and without enzyme; (c) pretreatment bath after pretreatment of wool according to experiment #61, product isolated by TLC for identification of fatty acid; (d) enzyme spent treatment bath after treatment according to experiment #57 (Table VII) ; product isolated by TLC for identification of FFA ; Figure 12 shows EI-MS chromatogram and spectra documenting the presence of 18-MEA: (A and B) EI and MS, respectively, of model 18-MEA after saponification of the methyl ester, (c) and D) El and MS, respectively, of 18-MEA from residual spent pretreatment bath (experiment #61 (Table VII)) ; (E) EI chromatogram of 18-MEA from residual protease treatment bath (experiment #57 (Table VII)) ; Figure 13 shows surface roughness based on the count of projecting fiber ends above the surface of the fabric as evaluated by digital image analysis; Figure 14 shows digital images of pretreated wool fabrics corresponding to the counts shown in Figure 1: run 1 (0.5% owf protease and 0.5% owf sodium sulfite); run 8 (1.5% owf protease and 1.5% owf sodium sulfite) ; run 9 (1.0% owf protease without sodium sulfite); Blank; Control ; Figure 15 shows scanning electron photomicrographs of wool fibers: (a, b, and c) treatment with enzyme and sodium sulfite; (d) treatment with enzyme alone; (e) treatment with sodium sulfite alone; (f) control; Figure 16 shows mechanical properties of wool fabrics after pretreatment followed by treatments with enzyme and sodium sulfite: (a) breaking strength; (b) elongation at break; (c) Young's modulus; and Figure 17 shows central composite design for enzymatic treatment of wool fabric with 1.0% owf enzyme, 1.4% owf sodium sulfate for 30 minutes, resulting in predictive surface responses : (a) relative shrinkage,-3. 01% ; (b) breaking load, 22.9%, and (c) weight loss, 3. 71%.

Detailed Description Of The Invention The present invention concerns methods of improving shrink-resistance of natural fibers (e. g., wool, wool fibers, animal hair, cotton), synthetic fibers (e. g., acetate, nylon, polyester, viscose rayon), or blends thereof (e. g. , wool/cotton blends), or fabrics or yams composed of natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or blends thereof, involving contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with NaOH, H2O2, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e.g., Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton X-114), and optionally subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabric or yam) with protease and non-ionic surfactant and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer. The methods do not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid, chloroamines, peroxymonosulfuric acid, monoperoxyphthalic acid, permanganate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, or aminoplast resins.

One aspect of the present invention involves contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yam) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X-100), and subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yarn) with protease and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.

Another aspect of the present invention involves contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yarn) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X-114) but not protease.

One preferred aspect of the present invention involves contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yarn) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X-114), and subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yam) with protease, sodium sulfite, triethanolamine, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X-114), and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.

Nonionic surfactants that may be utilized in the present invention include Sigma's Triton X- series prepared by the reaction of octylphenol with ethylene oxide which produces alkylaryl polyether alcohols having the following general structural formula : in which x indicates the average number ofethylene oxide units in the ether side chain, x can <BR> <BR> range from 1 up to about 70. The Triton# X-series is composed of several products having different lengths of the polyethylene chain. Examples of the Triton# X-series include X-100 (9 to 10 ethylene oxide units per molecule in the ether side chain, 1% solution cloud point, 65°C) and Triton X-114 (7 to 8 ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain, 1% solution cloud point, 22°C). The products of the Triton&commat; X-series are mixtures with respect to the polyethylene chain; the number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain (e. g. , 7 to 8 ethylene oxide units for Triton X-114) represents the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain (the distribution of polyethylene chain lengths follows the Poisson distribution).

The fibers (or fabrics or yarn) are first treated, involving contacting the fibers (or fabrics or yarn) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant (e. g. , Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton X-114). The reaction time is generally between about 30 minutes and about 60 minutes (e. g. , 30-60 minutes), preferably between about 30 minutes and about 45 minutes (e. g. , 30-45 minutes), more preferably between about 30 minutes and about 40 minutes (e. g. , 30-40 minutes), and most preferably for about 30 minutes (e. g. , 30 minutes). The reaction temperature is generally between about 30°C and about 45°C (e. g., 30°C-45°C), preferably between about 30°C and about 40°C (e. g., 30°C- 40°C), more preferably between about 30°C and about 35°C (e. g., 30°C-35°C), and most preferably about 30°C (e. g., 30°C). The pH is generally between about 9 and about 12 (e. g. , 9- 12), preferably between about 10 and about 12 (e. g. , 10-12), more preferably between about 11 and about 12 (e. g. , 11-12), and most preferably about 11 (e. g. , 11). The concentration of NaOH (% owb) is generally between about 2.5 and about 4 g/l (e. g., 2. 5-4 g/l), preferably between about 3 and about 4 g/1 (e. g., 3-4 g/1), more preferably between about 3 and about 3.5 g/1 (e. g. , 3-3.5 g/1), and most preferably about 3 g/l (e. g. , 3 g/1). The concentration of Na gluconic acid (% owb) is generally between about 0.75 and about 1.75 g/1 (e. g., 0.75-1. 75 g/1), preferably between about 1 and about 1.75 g/1 (e. g. , 1-1.75 g/1), more preferably between about 1 and about 1.25 g/l (e. g., 1-1.25 g/1), and most preferably about 1 g/1 (e. g., 1 g/1). The concentration of dicyandiamide (% owb) is generally between about 2.5 and about 4 g/1 (e. g., <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> 2.5-4 g/l), preferably between about 3 and about 4 g/l (e. g. , 3-4 g/1), more preferably between about 3 and about 3. 5 g/l (e.g., 3-3.5 g/l), and most preferably about 3 g/l (e.g., 3 g/l). The concentration of non-ionic surfactant (e. g., Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton X-114)(%owb) is generally between about 1 and 2 g/l (e.g., 1-2 g/l), preferably between about 1.5 and about 2 g/l (e. g., 1. 5-2 g/1), more preferably between about 1. 75 and about 2 g/l (e. g. , 1.75-2 g/l), and most preferably about 2 g/l (e. g. , 2 g/1). The concentration of 30% H202 (% owb) is generally between about 10 and about 25 mol/1 (e. g. , 10- 25 ml/l), preferably between about 15 and about 25 mol/1 (e. g. , 15-25 ml/1), more preferably between about 15 and about 20 ml/l (e. g. , 15-20 ml/1), and most preferably about 20 ml/I (e. g., 20 mull) ; if 50% H202 (% owb) is used then the amounts are about 3/5 of the 30% H202.

If the fibers (or fabrics or yarn) are subsequently treated with protease, then the reaction time is generally between about 35 minutes and about 50 minutes (e. g., 35-50 minutes), preferably between about 40 minutes and about 50 minutes (e. g., 40-50 minutes), more preferably between about 40 minutes and about 45 minutes (e. g. , 40-45 minutes), and most preferably for about 40 minutes (e. g. , 40 minutes). The reaction temperature is generally between about 40°C and about 55°C (e. g., 40°C-55°C), preferably between about 40°C and about 50°C (e. g., 40°C- 50°C), more preferably between about 45°C and about 50°C (e. g., 45°C-50°C), and most preferably about 45°C (e. g., 45°C). The pH is generally between about 6 and about 8 (e. g. , 6- 8), preferably between about 6.5 and about 8 (e. g. , 6. 5-8), and more preferably between about 7 and about 8 (e. g., 7-8). The concentration of triethanolamine (% owb) is generally between about 1.25 and about 2 g/1 (e. g. , 1.25-2 g/1), preferably between about 1.25 and about 1.75 g/1 (e. g. , 1.25-1. 75 g/1), more preferably between about 1. 5 and about 1.75 g/l (e. g. , 1.5-1. 75 g/1), and most preferably about 1. 5 g/1 (e. g., 1.5 g/1). The concentration of non-ionic surfactant (e. g., Triton X surfactant such as Triton X-100 and preferably Triton X-1 14) (% owb) is generally between about 0.3 and about 1.5 g/l (e. g., 0.3-1. 5 g/1), preferably between about 0.5 and about 1.5 g/1 (e. g., 0.5-1. 5 g/1), more preferably between about 0.5 and about 1 g/l (e. g., 0.5-1 g/1), and most preferably about 1 g/1 (e. g. , 1 g/1). The concentration of protease (e. g., Esperase) (% ow) is generally between about 1.25 and about 2 g/l (e. g., 1.25-2 g/1), preferably between about 1.25 and about 1.75 g/l (e. g., 1.25-1. 75 g/1), more preferably between about 1.5 and about 1. 75 g/1 (e. g., 1. 5-1. 75 g/l), and most preferably about 1.5 g/l (e. g. , 1.5 g/1). The concentration of sodium sulfite (%owf) is generally between about 1.25 and about 2 g/l (e.g., 1.25-2 g/l), preferably between about 1.25 and about 1.75 g/1 (e. g., 1.25-1.75 g/l), more preferably between about 1.5 and about 1.75 g/l (e.g., 1.5-1.75 g/l), and most preferably about 1.5 g/l (e. g., 1. 5 g/1).

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention belongs.

The term"shrinkage"refers to the felting shrinkage of fibers as defined in IWS TM 31, i. e., felting shrinkage is the irreversible shrinkage caused by progressive entanglement of the wool fibers induced by washing in an aqueous solution, and is defined as the reduction in length and/or width induced by washing. Shrinkage can be measured in accordance with IWS TM 31, or it can be measured using the following modification. Wool samples (24 cm. times. 24 cm) are sewed around the edges and inscribed with a rectangle (18 cm. times. 18 cm). Samples are treated, air-dried, then subjected to five cycles of machine washing and drying (warm wash, high heat of drying) in combination with external ballast such as towels and articles of clothing. The dimensions of the rectangle are measured after five cycles, and the shrinkage is defined as the change in dimensions of the rectangle, after accounting for initial relaxation shrinkage.

The term"shrink-resistance"is a measure of the reduction in shrinkage (as defined above, after wash/dry cycles) for material that has been treated relative to material that has not been treated, i. e., Shrink-resistance = (Shrinkage untreated-Shrinkage treated) /Shrinkage treated The value is multiplied by 100 in order to be expressed as a percentage.

A reduction in shrinkage implies a reduction in felting, and thus all methods that provide improved shrink-resistance also provide"anti-felting"properties.

By the term"wool,""wool fiber,""animal hair,"and the like, is meant any commercially useful animal hair product, for example, wool from sheep, camel, rabbit, goat, llama, and known as s merino wool, shetland wool, cashmere wool, alpaca wool, mohair, etc. The term <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> "wool"includes tle fiber from fleece of the sheep or lamb or hair of the Angra or Caslaere goat (and may include the so-called specialty fibers from the camel, alpaca, llama, and vicuna) which has never been reclaimed from any woven or felted wool product (Federal Trade Commission, Rules and Regulations Under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, effective March 3,1960 as amended July 9, 1986, page 2.) The methods of the invention can also be used with blends of wool with other natural and synthetic fibers, including but not limited to Cotton, Flax, Rayon, Acetate, Acrylic, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, Spandex, Aramid, Lyocell, Olefin, Polypropylene, PEEK, PLA, Fluorocarbon, Carbon, Glass, PBI, and others known in the art.

The methods of the invention can be used with natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and mixtures thereof in the form of top, fiber, yarn, or woven or knitted fabric. The methods can also be carried out on loose fiber stock or on yarn, fabrics or garments made from natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and mixtures thereof. The methods can be performed at many different stages of processing, including either before or after dyeing. A range of different chemical additives can be added along with the enzymes, including wetting agents and softeners.

It should be emphasized that wool and other animal hair materials are products of biological origin. The material may vary greatly, e. g., in chemical composition and morphological structure depending on the living conditions and health of the animal. Accordingly, the effect (s) obtained by subjecting wool or other animal hair products to the method of the present invention may vary in accordance with the properties of the starting material.

The following examples are intended only to further illustrate the invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention as defined by the claims.

Examples First Example : Materials And Methods : Worsted wool fabrics (Testfabrics Inc.), #523 worsted flannel, as received, were cut to 10 gram sample weights.

D-Gluconic acid, CAS Reg. No. [526-95-4] was supplied by Sigma (St. Louis, MO) as the potassium salt of (2,3, 4,5, 6-pentahydroxycapric acid, 99%). Two nonionic surfactants, having different cloud points (the temperature at which the surfactant drops out of solution, causing the solution to become cloudy) described as alkylaryl polyether alcohols, Triton X-100 (9 to 10 ethylene oxide units per molecule in the ether side chain, 1% solution cloud point, 65°C) and Triton X-114 (7 to 8 ethylene oxide units, 1% solution cloud point, 22°C) were supplied by Sigma (St. Louis, MO). Under our reaction conditions (30°C and 40°C) the solution containing Triton X-100 was clear and the solution containing Triton X-114 was cloudy. Boric acid, dicyandiamide (DD) and hydrogen peroxide (H202), 30%, were obtained from Aldrich (Milwauke, WI). Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) was obtained from Mallinckrodt Baker, Inc.

(Paris, KY) in a lab grade. The alkaline protease, Esperase 8. 0 L, a subtilisin serine protease designed for use in washing powders, was supplied by Novozymes North America. Inc.

(Franklinton, NC).

Experimental Design: Pretreatment baths contained NaOH, DD, H202, GA and either 2g/L Triton X-100 or Triton X-114. In certain experiments this pretreatment was followed by 2% of enzyme in borate buffer medium containing 1 g/L either Triton X-100 or Triton X-114. Borate buffers (1 0mM, pH 9) were prepared by dissolving 2. 48g of boric acid in 3.7 L water containing Triton X-100 and adjusting the pH to 9.0 with NaOH solution (0. 1M). The conditions of application are shown in experiments 1-8 in Table I. We followed a seven-factorial statistical design based on high/low values for pH (XI), concentration (X2), exposure time (X3), and the presence or absence of the four reactants : GA (X4), DD (X5), H202 (X6) and enzyme (X7). Triton X-100 was added to both pretreatment and treatment baths. The statistical scheme is shown in Table I. The relative importance of the factors: pH, LR, time, and the four reactants (from experiments 1 to 8) were determined from their appropriately highest (most important) or lowest (least important) numerical values found from the following equations : Factor XI = (Row 2 + Row 4 + Row 6 + Row 3)- (Row 1 + Row 3 + Row 5 + Row 7) Factor X3 = (Row 5 + Row 6 + Row 7 + Row 8) - (Row 1 + Row 2 + Row 3 + Row 4) Factor X4- (Row 1 + Row 4 + Row 5 + Row 8)- (Row 2 + Row 3 + Row 6 + Row 7) Factor X5 = (Row 1 + Row 3 + Row 6 + Row 8)- (Row 2 + Row 4 + Row 5 + Row 7) Factor X6 = (Row 1 + Row 2 + Row 7 + Row 8)- (Row 3 + Row 4 + Row 5 + Row 6) Factor X7 = (Row 2 + Row 3 + Row 5 + Row 8)- (Row 1 + Row 4 + Row 6 + Row 7) Pretreatment: The pretreatment baths containing 2g/L Triton X-100 were prepared according to Table I for selected times at 30°C in an Atlas LP2 Launder-Ometer and Lab Dyeing System.

After pretreatment the fabrics were rinsed and squeezed of excess water before placing them in the enzyme treatment baths.

Enzymatic Treatment: Enzymatic treatment baths were prepared according to Table I and carried out for 40 minutes at 45°C. At the end of treatment, the enzyme was inactivated by raising the temperature to 80°C at 5. 5°C/min followed by 10 minutes dwelling at this temperature. After treatment, the samples were rinsed in cold water and air-dried.

Fluorescence Microscopy: Wool yams were stained at 60°C for 30 minutes with 0.04 g Rhodamine B (cationic dye) dissolved in 90 mL of ethanol and 10 mL methanol, liquor ratio 40: 1. After drying under a stream of nitrogen, the yams were rinsed in tetrachloroethylene to remove any loosely adsorbed dye and air-dried. Cross-sections of the stained fibers from these yams were prepared on the Micro No. 200-A Microtome (Micro Instrument, Marshfield Hills, MA) using collodion embedding medium (Mallinckrodt, Paris, KY) prepared as a solution of ImL of collodion dissolved in 5 mL of ethanol and 1 mL of diethylether. Sections of 5 mm thickness were cut and placed on a glass slide and covered by a glass cover slip. Confocal fluorescent images of the stained fiber cross-sections were obtained from a Leica TCS Confocal System equipped with an HCX PL40X 1. 25 NA lens. The wavelength of excitation was 4 nm using an 18% acousto optic tunable filter and the emission wavelength was 540-580 nm.

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) : Wool yarn lengths, 2. 5 em, were withdrawn from untreated and treated fabrics. The yams were glued to aluminum specimen stubs using double-sided SEM tape (Electron Microscopy Sciences, Ft. Washington, PA), and the mounted samples were coated with a thin layer of gold in a DC sputtering apparatus (Edwards High Vacuum, Wilmington, MA) for 240 seconds at 1 kV and 20 mA. Imaging was performed with a model JSM840A scanning electron microscope (JEOL USA, Peabody, MA) operating at 10 kV in the secondary electron imaging mode and coupled to an Imix-1 digital image workstation (Princeton Gamma-tech, Princeton, NJ). Images were made at 250X and 2500X.

Image width at 250X was 460 micrometers and image width at 2500X was 46 micrometers.

Detection Of 18-MEA (Saponification Of Model Fatty Acid Esters, Characterization By Thin Layer Chromatograpy (TLC) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (EI-MS) ) : Pretreatment and treatment baths were analyzed for fatty acid content, specifically for 18-methyleicosanoic acid (18-MEA) removed from wool following a procedure developed for the analysis of model 18-MEA methyl ester (Ultra Scientific, N. Kingston, RI).

The model fatty acid ester was saponified by 6M sodium hydroxide at 40°C-50°C for 4.5 h.

After acidifying with 37% HCl diluted 2: 8 (v/v), the solution was allowed to stand for 30 minutes before spotting on TLC plates.

Two types of TLC plates were used: Whatman (Catalog No. 4805-720, silica gel, 60 A°, 10 x 20 cm) and AnalTech (Catalog No. 11511, silica gel, 250 micron, 20 x 20 cm). They were prepared by washing in a 2: 1 chloroform: methanol mixture and drying at 120°C overnight before placing them in a dessicator. A TLC reference standard for lipids, composed of cholesterol, cholesteryl oleate, triolen, oleic acid, and methyl oleate (Nu-Chek Prep, Inc. , Elysian, MN, No. 18-4A) was diluted to concentrations of 5mg/mL with dichloromethane.

The development solvent was a mixture of hexane : diethyl ether: acetic acid (80 : 20: 1).

Visualization of the TLC plates was done by spraying with 10% sulfuric acid in methanol, drying and then charring on a hot plate. Comparison of Rf value was made to the 18-4A standard mixture that had been developed in parallel.

For analysis by El/D,/tS, certain sections of the silica spots were scraped off the AnalTech TLC plates and transferred to a 50 mL Erlenmeyer flask for extraction with 25 mL dichloromethane five times. After filtration and evaporation, the isolated fatty acid was recovered in dichloromethane that was further evaporated using a stream of dry nitrogen.

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR): All measurements were made on a Nicolet Magna System 560 spectrometer by transmission IR using CaF2 disks to sandwich the sample for placement in the IR beam. The instrument was equipped with a mercury cadmium telluride detector (MCT/A) and KBr beam splitter. IR spectra were collected with mirror velocity of 0.6329 and iris aperture 15.00. The CaF2 absorption window was 4000 to 1000 cm-l. Extracts of the hydrolyzed 18-MEA pretreatment and treatment baths were solvated with one drop of methylene chloride, and placed on a CaF2 crystal. After complete evaporation of the methylene chloride under a stream of nitrogen, the second CaF2 crystal was positioned over the first one. Data collections were made with 64 scans for sample and background with gain of 1.0 for sample and background with a collection of 3,112 data points.

EI-MS : The lipid extracts were dissolved in dichloromethane to attain a 1 mg/mL concentration. The extracted lipidic portion was separated into its components and analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography with electron impact mass spectrometry detection (EI-MS) using a Waters Integrity System (Waters Co, Milord, MA) consisting of a Waters 2690 Separation Module connected in series to a Waters Thermabeam Mass Detector. Sample separation was achieved with a Waters Symmetry C8 3.5 pm column (2 mm x 150 mm) with a gradient elution as follows: water 40%-acetonitrile (formic acid 0. 1 %) 60% held for 5 min; to a final composition with a linear gradient ofacetonitrile (formic acid 0. 1%) 100% at 30 min, held for 15 min and a flow rate of 0.25 mL/min. The EI-MS detector was set to scan in the mass range of m/z 50-600 at 1 scan per second, 70 eV ionization energy. Ionization source temperature was 200°C. Nebulizer temperature was 63°C and expansion region temperature was 75°C. Lipidic components were identified preliminarily by matching the spectrum of the separated components against the Wiley/NIST library. We made positive identification of 18- MEA from 1 8-MEA ester (UltTa ScientiEc, RI) that we had saponified and acidified and from 18-MEA that we recovered from the treatment baths with reference to the spectra of available reference standards.

Property Measurements : Moisture Regain And Weight Loss (%) : Both untreated and treated wool fabrics were brought to the bone-dry state by heating in a 105°C oven for 4 h after which they were weighed and placed in a conditioning room of relative humidity 51% and 71°F for 24 h. Their conditioned weights were recorded and moisture regain was determined from Equation 1: % Moisture Regain = 100 x (C-D)/D (1) where, "C"is conditioned weight and"D"is dry weight.

Difference in Regain was calculated according to Equation 2: ARegain (%) = 100 x (Rb-Ra) /Rb (2) where Rb is Moisture Regain (%) before treatment and Ra is Moisture Regain (%) after treatment.

Weight Loss was calculated according to Equation 3: Weight Loss (%) = 100 x (Db-Da) /Db (3) where Db and Da are the dry weight before and after treatment respectively.

Fabric Thickness : Fabric Thickness was measured on a Randall & Stickney meter, the measurement was carried out at five different areas and an average of five positions was taken as their final thickness (mm). The thickness difference (%) was calculated according to Equation 4: Thickness 100 x (Tb-Ta)/Tb (4) where Tb is Thickness (average) before treatment and Ta is Thickness (average) after treatment.

Dimension Stability and Shrinkage (%) : All samples were oven-dried (105°C) for 4 h and subsequently conditioned overnight at 71°F and 51% RH before measuring the fabric warp and weft dimensions. In the conditioned environment, yams were withdrawn 4.0 cm from each edge of 10" # 11" (10 gram) fabric samples to mark a rectangular area for measurement.

Dimension stability % was calculated according to Equation 5: Area. Shrinkage ge (%) = 100 x (Ab - Aa)/ Ab (5) where Ab and Aa are the area of sample before and after treatment, respectively.

Dimensional stability tests were conducted according to AATCC Test Method 135-1992, Dimensional Changes in Automatic Home Laundering of Woven and Knit Fabrics, Alternative Washing and Drying Conditions. Polyester double knit fabrics, 10 gram pieces, were added to the washing machine to bring the load to 3 pounds. A Kenmore washing machine was used with Woolite fabric wash. A delicate wash (Permanent Press) cycle was used with water level set to high; warm water (35°C) was used for both wash and rinse. The pH of the bath water was 7.63 and the wash cycle was programmed for 30 minutes. Shrinkage was determined after 5 machine wash/air-dry cycles. After the fifth wash/dry, the samples were placed in a 105°C oven for 4 h. These samples were conditioned overnight at 71 °F and 51% RH. The dimensions on the fabric in the warp and weft directions were recorded and relative shrinkage (%) was calculated according to Equation 6: Relative Area Shrinkage (%) = 100 x (Aa-Aw) /Aa (6) where Area Shrinkage (%) is the relative area shrinkage during the washing process, Aa and Aw are the area of sample after treatment and after washing, respectively. The overall shrinkages were based on Equation 7: Overall Area Shrinkage (%) = 100 x (Ab-Aw) /Ab (7) where Area Shrinkage (%) is the overall area shrinkage and Ab and Aw are areas before treatment and after the washing process, respectively. Initial and overall shrinkages are important in mill processing. Relative shrinkage (%) is important for textile refurbishment by the consumer.

Whiteness and Yellowness Indices : The whiteness and yellowness indices of the fabric samples were measured using the color-insights QC Manager system (BYK-Gardner, Inc. , Silver Spring, MD) according to ASTM E313,"Indexes of Whiteness and Yellowness of Near-White, Opaque Materials."The indices were recorded before and after treatment. The whiteness difference (%) and yellowness difference (%) were calculated according to Equations 8 and 9 : <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> # Whiteness, (%) = 100 # (WIa- WIb)/ WIb (8)<BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR> AYellowness, (%) = 100 x (YIa-YIb)/YIb (9) where WIa and Wlb are the whiteness indices of the sample after and before treatment, respectively, and YIa and YIb are the yellowness indices of the samples after and before treatments, respectively. A positive value for Whiteness (%) indicates that the whiteness increased after treatment and a negative value for I\Yellowness (%) indicates that yellowness decreased after treatment.

Tensile Strength, Elongation And Energy At Break, And Young's Modulus: Tensile strength, elongation and energy at break, and Young's modulus were measured according to ASTM D1682-64, Breaking Load and Elongation of Textile Fabrics, Method 17.1, Raveled Strip, on an Instron Model 1122 Analyzer using a 50-pound load capacity, 2.54 cm gauge length, and crosshead speed moving at 300mm/sec. Force to break was normalized to the number of yarns within the width and their weight. Strain at break (%) was calculated according to Equation 10: Elongation, % = 100 x L/Lo (10) where L is the original length of the test specimen, 2.54 cm, and L is the difference in this length minus the length of the specimen stretched to the breaking point. Strength in kg was recorded after normalization to the number of yarns in the one-inch test strip.

Results And Discussion : 1. NaOH/H202, GA, DD, Triton X-100 Followed By Enzyme: The results of physical testing after pretreatment with NaOH//202, GA, DD, and Triton X-100 followed by treatment with enzyme according to Table I are shown in Table II.

The relative importance of the various factors is shown in Table III.

From Table III, enzyme (Factor X7) was the most important factor in weight loss, strength loss, loss in fabric thickness, and fabric whiteness. H202 (Factor X6) was the most important factor for controlling shrinkage, and enzyme was the second contributing factor to controlling shrinkage e and fabric whiteness. NaOH (Factor X1) was the primary contributing factor causing fabric shrinkage.

Without being bound by theory, it is plausible that specificity for the wool substrate is through the enzyme's serine hydroxyl active sites, which in basic medium can form a negatively charged transition-state acting as an acyl-intermediate. By subsequent deacylation, the acyl-enzyme intermediate is hydrolyzed by a water molecule to restore the serine hydroxyl of the enzyme. This proceeds with concomitant hydrolysis of the wool peptide linkage (Figure 1).

Under the conditions of experiment 8 in Table I, we activated the enzyme in alkali medium after a pretreatment with NaOH/H202 had made the wool more accessible to the enzyme. It is interesting to note that both initial and relative shrinkages were controlled by treatment according to experiment 8, as shown in Table IV.

Experiment 8 with 3g/L NaOH/H202, GA, DD, and Triton X-100 followed by enzyme treatment showed the lowest initial, relative, and overall shrinkages whereas experiments 3 to 6 without H2O2 gave the highest shrinkage results. The scanning electron micrographs comparing wool fibers treated according to the conditions of experiment 1 to those of experiment 8 show the dramatic effects of H202 and enzyme on scale smoothing to alleviate shrinkage.

The view that formation of oxidized groups by NaOH/H2O2, DD, GA, and Triton X-100 contributes to smoothing of the cuticle layer is supported by the scanning electron micrographs in Figure 2 (a) representing experiment 1; compare the effects of this treatment to the effects of those that include 2% enzyme in Figure 2 (b-d), all representing experiment 8. There is dramatic evidence of scale alteration and damage to the inner cortex of the wool fiber with concomitant loss in mechanical properties shown in Figure 4 (a-c).

Furthermore, note from Table IV that in enzyme treatments following pretreatments with iNaOH/H20, without GA and DD (experiment 2) shrinkage is low but the addition of GA and DD (experiment re,, results in complete shrinkage control. Without being bound by theory, we hypothesize that DD acted as a hydrogen peroxide activator to enhance the oxidation ability of hydrogen peroxide at room temperature, and we propose the reaction scheme in Figure 3 whereby the increased nucleophilicity of the =NH group in the peroxy DD species causes this peroxide to have greater oxidizing potential than H2O2.

The mechanical properties of the wool fabrics treated according to experiments 1-8 are shown in Figure 4 (a-c).

It is apparent that reactions with enzyme in experiments 2,3, 5, and 8 produced not only appreciable fabric strength loss but loss in elongation and energy at break while all treatments resulted in loss in modulus so that the fabrics became more pliable and less rigid. Our deduction that in the enzyme systems the cortical cells of the wool fiber had been attacked, thereby causing loss in mechanical properties, was supported by the scanning electron micrographs in Figure 2 (d).

II. NAOH/H202, GA, DD, TRITON X-114 without enzyme: Experiment 8 showed stripping and partial removal of the cuticle layer of wool resulting in damage to the inner cortical cells. Removal of wool's lipid layer assisted in the penetration of chemicals and enzyme into the interior of the fiber. We attributed this in part to the additive, Triton X-100, a nonionic surfactant commonly used in dyeing wool, which shortened the wetting time of wool and assisted in the penetration of the enzyme. By replacing Triton X-l 00 with Triton X-114 (the lower cloud point of Triton X-l 14 was responsible for the formation of a cloudy solution) we proposed to protect the fiber from enzyme penetration to assure that all reactivity would take place on the fiber surface. We tested this theory by performing individual pretreatments analogous to experiments 1 and 8 using Triton X-114 according to Table V.

Cross-sections of stained fibers from sample #79 were prepared with Rhodamine B solution for confbcal fluorescence imaging. In Figure 5, the confocal micrograph of the fibers show evidence of negative charge on the fiber surface because of the attraction of this cationic dye.

Scanning electron micrographs of fibers from fabrics treated with 1g/L NaOH (#61) showed partial smoothing of the cuticular surface. Fibers from fabrics treated with 3g/L NaOH (&num;79) showed complete smoothing (Figure 6).

Neither treatment at either concentration of NaOH resulted in loss of fabric strength (Table VI). Fabrics treated at the higher base concentration (#79) exhibited low relative shrinkage.

Changes in mechanical properties of the fabrics treated according to Table V are shown in Figure 7.

It is clear that in these NaOH/H202, GA, DD, Triton X-114 systems the presence of enzyme was not necessary for shrinkage control and mechanical properties were not affected negatively.

III. NaOH/H202, GA, DD, Triton X-1 14 Followed By PAA (polyacrylamide)/Enzyme : Another approach to including protease in a shrinkage-resistant process was to incorporate PAA polymer which has affinity for the enzyme so that its association with the enzyme would limit enzyme activity to the fiber surface.

Although the specific data for another system, one-step 2% of PAA treatments with enzyme at 45°C for 40 minutes in one bath containing 1 g/L Triton X-114 are not shown, the scanning electron micrographs are shown in Figure 8 (a-d). Note that there is only slight scale alteration. The lowest relative shrinkage was 8.3% and there was no loss in fabric whiteness or strength.

To the the PAA/Triton X-114 enzymatic system for greater shrinkage control, 2 two- step process was adoptd. Wool fabric was pretreated with NaOH/H2O2, GA, DD, Triton X-114 according to #61, shown in Table VII, followed by treatment with PAA/Triton X-114 and enzyme according to #51, #57, and #99, shown in Table VII. Note that in #99, Na2SO3 was added to the PAA/Triton X-114 enzyme bath. The scanning electron micrographs are shown in Figure 8 (e and f).

The results of property testing of fabrics treated according to the procedures in Table VII are shown in Table VIII and mechanical properties are shown in Figure 9.

Structural Changes In Wool: The results of TLC analyses to monitor the saponification of 18-MEA methyl ester, the presence of 18-MEA in the pretreatment bath (sample &num;61), and its presence in the spent treatment bath (sample #57) are shown in Figure 10.

The IR spectra of 18-MEA in the pretreatment and pretreatment spent baths are shown in Figure 11.

The spectrum of 18-MEA in Figure 1 l (a) shows a broad-OH stretching frequency of the acid in the absorption region 3000-2800 cmi'. Dimerization through hydrogen bonding of the fatty acid explains the considerable OH shift from-OH stretching vibrations of carboxylic acids between 2700-2500 cm''which is normally at 3560-3500 cm~l. The strong carbonyl absorption at 1702 cm''is associated with the dimeric carboxyl group of the fatty acid. The carbonyl absorption of saturated fatty acids (C14-C21) in solution is at 1712 +/-6cm-1 whereas in solution they are a few cm''lower. The 1471 cm''absorption band and the absorbances in the 1350-1180 cm''region have been attributed to the methylene vibrations of fatty acids. This region is known for fatty acid band progression whereby as the length of the carbon chain increases in a fatty acid, the number of bands increases; for example, C21 was reported to show nine such bands. In Figure 1 l (b) the spectrum of the pretreatment bath #61 before use shows the broad 3459 cm''bands and the carboxylate bands in the 1610-1550 cm''region for GA.

The spectrum also shows a minor cyanide peak at 2186 cm''&amp;om DD and an-OH overtone band at 1117 cm''. The spectra of the fatty acid region from pretreatment #61 as isolated by TLC and the FFA region pretreatment (#57) bath, handled similarly, show absorption bands characteristic of 18-MEA in (a), thus providing evidence that 18-MEA was removed by alkaline peroxide with GA and DD additives during pretreatment. Without being bound by theory, we speculate that covalently bonded 18-MEA was made susceptible by this pretreatment to subsequent removal of additional 1S-MEA during treatment with protease.

The EI-MS spectrum of commercial 18-MEA methyl ester, which was saponified with NaOH to 18-MEA, is found in Figure 12 (A and B). Figure 12 (A) shows EI chromatogram of an authentic 18-MEA standard after hydrolysis to the corresponding fatty acid elutes at 32.5 minutes, consistent with a Cl, fatty acid in the Wiley/NIST library in the MS in Figure 12 (B).

In Figure 12 (c) and D), spot migration patterns from TLC plate, Figure 10 (c) (extracted from columns 3 and 4) represent pretreatment (experiment #61) and treatment (experiment # 57) baths containing 18-MEA as shown by EI chromatograms in Figure 12 (c) and E). Note that the EI chromatograms (c) and E) that similarly show a peak eluting at 32.5 minutes are in good agreement with thel 8-MEA fatty acid standard 18-MEA (A).

Discussion: We discovered effective alkaline hydrogen peroxide systems that confer shrinkage resistance when used alone or with subsequent enzyme applications. In this report, we found that H202 was an effective replacement for DCCA in conferring anionic charge on the surface of wool fibers, leading to the achievement of similar low levels of shrinkage. We evaluated the relative importance of the effects of NaOH, H202 and enzyme on shrinkage control and on the changes in physical properties of the treated wool fabrics, and found that H202 was the most important factor and enzyme was the second contributing factor in controlling shrinkage. NaOH was the primary contributing factor causing fabric shrinkage. Notably, enzyme was the most important factor in fabric weight loss, loss in fabric thickness, strength loss, and fabric whiteness.

Without being bound by theory, we postulated that achieving negligible shrinkage by pretreating with lVaOHII-i202, DD, GA, Triton X-100 before treating with enzyme was due in part to formation of a highly reactive DD peroxide species and that the loss in mechanical properties we observed was due chiefly to exposure to the enzyme.

As a result, further investigations led to the discovery that a nonenzymatic NaOH/H2O2, GA, DD, X-114 system was effective in controlling shrinkage to 2.95% without loss in mechanical properties. In this case we postulated that without the enzyme present and with the inclusion of a low cloud-point surfactant, Triton X-114, reactivity would be limited to de fiber surface and the result would be that mechanical properties would be preserved.

We discovered that enzyme could be used without loss in structural integrity of the wool if applied with polymeric PAA that would associate with the enzyme to prevent its permeation beyond the fiber surface. After pretreatment with NaOH/H2O2, GA, DD, X-114, treatment with PAA/enzyme, Triton X-114 resulted in area shrinkage of 6% to 7% which was reduced to 1.16% by including Na2SO3 in the enzyme treatment bath.

For a better understanding of our discoveries, we investigated the structural changes in wool and found there was evidence of 18-MEA in spent peroxide baths. Furthermore, an even greater discovery was that we had found evidence of 18-MEA in the extracts of wool fabrics that had been pretreated with NaOH/H202, GA, DD, X-114, followed by treatment with enzyme. This led us to conclude that rendering 18-MEA labile to extraction is important for effective shrinkage control. Validation of the presence of 18-MEA was supported by TLC separations that matched the elution patterns of a standard fatty acid, oleic acid. FTIR analyses of prepared TLC fractions showed the characteristic absorption bands of fatty acids that corresponded to standard 18-MEA methyl ester that had been saponified and acidified. These samples from TLC separations were then analyzed by EI-MS to show that 18-MEA was indeed present in both spent pretreatment and treatment baths.

Two acceptable shrinkage control systems involve the following : (1) one-step nonenzymatic treatment with NaOH/H202, DD, GA, Triton X-114 (experiment #79) and (2) two-step enzymatic pretreatment with NaOH/H202, DD, GA, Triton X-114 followed by treatment with PAA/enzyme/Triton X-l 14 with co-addition of 2% of Na2SO3 (experiment #99).

Second Example : Materials And Methods : Worsted wool fabrics, D-Gluconic acid, Triton X-114, Esperase#, dicyandiamide and hydrogen peroxide were the same as described above. Triethanolamine (Aldrich Chemical Company, WI) was used as buffer for enzyme treatment. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) was obtained from Mallinckrodt Baker, Inc. (Paris, KY) in a lab grade.

Experimental Design : Wool fabrics, four at a time, were pretreated and treated in individual baths with liquor ratio 25: 1. Pretreatment baths contained 3g/L NaOH, 3g/L DD, H202 (30%): 20ml/L, lg/L potassium salt of GA and 2g/L Triton X-114. All samples were pretreated at 30°C for 30 minutes in an Atlas LP2 Launder-Ometer and Lab Dyeing System. After pretreatment the fabrics were rinsed in cold water and squeezed of excess water before placing them in the enzyme treatment baths. Enzyme baths, run at 45°C, were prepared according to Table IX, where the concentrations of Esperase 8. 0L and sodium sulfite were based on the weight of samples (40g). Each bath represented four 10 gram wool fabric samples in a total liquor volume of 1 L (25: 1 LR) for a total bath volume of 400 mL. Each bath was buffered by adding 10 mL of 1M triethanolamine solution to pH 8.6 for a bath concentration of 0. 01M or 1.5 g/L triethanolamine. 1 g/L of Triton X-114 was added to each bath.

After treatment, five wash cycles were carried out using a Whirlpool (Sears) washing machine programmed as follows: load size: large; temperature, wash/rinse warm (37°C)/cool ; extra rinse : off/off ; delicates wash: total time for each circle 30 minutes. The washing liquid was 1 cup of Wooliteg for each circle of a 3 pound load. The fabrics were air-dried after the 5th wash.

Statistical Design : A central composite design (CCD) is represented by the experiments described in Table I. The experiments contain an imbedded fractional factorial design with center points that allow estimation of response surface curvature. This method was applied to find the optimum conditions for minimizing shrinkage by performing the series of 20 experiments at different combinations of enzyme, and sulfite concentration and exposure time.

The response surfaces for relative shrinkage, load at break, and weight loss are shown by the graphs in Figures 17 a, b, c. They illustrate the quadratic model shown in Equation 1. These graphs can be examined to determine which treatment conditions will maximize shrinkage control, while maintaining adequate breaking load and weight loss.

Response = a a + b*(Na2SO3, % owf)+ c*(enzyme, % owf)+ d* time + e* (Na2SO3, % owf)*(enzyme, % owf) + f*(Na2SO3, % owf)*time + g*(enzyme, % owf)*time + h*(Na2SO3, % owf)*(Na2SO3, % owf) + it (enzyme, % owf)*(enzyme, % owf) + j*time*time. (1) where"a"to"j"are regression coefficients obtained by least squares for the responses: relative shrinkage, breaking load, and weight loss.

Property Measurements: Dimension stability and shrinkage (%); whiteness and yellowness indices; tensile strength, elongation and energy at break, and Young's modulus (measured at 51% relative humidity and 71° F) ; and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were determined using the methods described above.

Digital Image Analysis For Capturing A Fabric's Projecting Fiber Ends: A fabric sample was positioned within an Aristo DA-10 (Aristo Grid Lamp Products, Inc. , Port Washington, N. Y.) light box equipped with serpentine white lighting around the top periphery. A 35 mm camera equipped with a 40 mm extension tube and mounted onto an MTI CCD 72 B&W digital camera (HiTech Instruments, Inc. , Edgemont, PA) was positioned one inch from the fabric for an area of view of 1½ inches. The camera assembly was mounted on a Bencher Copystand (Bencher, Inc. , Pennsauken, NJ) above the light box. A FlashBus MVPro frame grabber board (I Cube, Crofton, MD) resided in a personal computer that had been installed with Image-Pro Plus software Version 4.5 (Media Cybernetics, Silver Spring, MD). eight-bit gray scale images were acquired of fabric that had been folded and placed under glass so that the projecting fiber ends from the position of the fold were images. Three fold points of each fabric were captured.

A"reduce"filter was applied that allowed the isolation of discrete projecting fiber ends from the edge of the folded fabric that were next counted from the"count/size"utility of the software. This procedure was repeated at two other fold points on the same fabric so that three sets of counts could be collected for each fabric. The results are depicted in Figure 13 for the samples shown in Table I.

Results and Discussion : Surface Roughness : The surface roughness of the H2O2/GA/DD-pretreated wool fabrics treated with equivalent relatively low level of sodium sulfile and enzyme (Run 1) and high level (Run 8) and with enzyme alone (Run 9) and sulfite alone (Run 11) are compared to the blank and the control fabric as received for projecting fiber count in Figure 13 and for visual perception of surface fuzziness as portrayed in their digital images in Figure 14. Note the significant decrease in surface roughness of runs 1 to 8 that were treated with both enzyme and sulfite when compared to runs 9 and 11 that were treated with either enzyme or sodium sulfite alone. Note further that fabrics treated according to the conditions in runs 9 and 11 are not significantly different in surface roughness when compared to the blank samples, B, and control samples, C.

Scanning Electron Photomicrographs: The micrographs in Figure 15 (a-f) of pretreated fabrics treated according to Table I reveal that the greatest extent of scale disruption and smoothing occurred in fabrics treated with enzyme and sodium sulfite when compared to fabrics treated with either enzyme or sodium sulfite alone.

Mechanical Properties: The effects on mechanical properties after treatment with H202/GA/DD followed by enzyme and sodium sulfite in Figure 16 (a, b, and c) reveal that fabric strength and elongation remained essentially unchanged. However, fabrics from 1 to 8 that had been treated with either the same amounts of enzyme and sodium sulfite or with relatively lower amounts (0. 5% owf to 1.5% owf) of each exhibited lower modulus to indicate a loss in fabric stiffness.

Graphical analysis of the data in Figure 17 (a, b, and c) according to Equation 1 from the central composite design predicts that for treatment with 1% enzyme and 1. 4% sodium sulfite, applied for 30 minutes, maximum relative shrinkage of-3. 01% is obtained with resultant breaking load of 22.92%, and a weight loss of 3. 71%.

Conclusions : A combined process for bleaching, shrinkage control, and biopolishing has been established utilizing ing pretreatment with hydrogen peroxide, gluconic acid, and dicyandiamidc followed by treatment with alkaline protease and sodium sulfite applied in triethanolamine buffer. An eddied fractional factorial design with center points was used to design experiments with various amounts of enzyme, sodium sulfite and exposure times from 20 to 60 minutes to obtain a reponse surface for relative shrinkage. The graphic depiction of the response surface predicted that maximum shrinkage control of-3. 01% resulted from treatment with 1.0% owf enzyme and 1.4% owf sodium sulfite applied for 30 minutes. Treatments for 20, 40, 50 and 60 minutes at various concentrations of enzyme and sodium sulfite gave similar responses. Under these optimum treatment conditions, mechanical properties were not affected ; however, there was 3.71% weight loss. Whiteness Index increased 75.4% +/-2.39% after pretreatment. When pretreatment was followed by treatment with 1.5% owf enzyme and 1.5% owf sodium sulfite, the change in Whiteness Index (with reference to the control fabric) was 94. 4% +/-3. 78%.

A count of projecting fiber ends above the surface of the washed fabrics revealed that wool fabrics treated with both enzyme and sodium sulfite at combinations of 0.5% owf and 1.5% owf gave the smoothest surfaces. Evaluation of these fabrics by visual perception and fabric handle supported these results.

The scanning electron photomicrographs of the treated fabrics revealed obvious scale smoothing, most pronounced in pretreated wool fibers that were treated with 1. 5 % owf enzyme and 1.5% owf sodium sulfite.

The response surface for relative shrinkage showed that all treatments resulted in negative shrinkage values to indicate that the fabrics increased in size. This was indeed the case.

Without being bound by theory, we speculate that pretreatment with H202, GA, and DD, followed by treatment with enzyme and sodium sulfite opens the morphological structure of the fiber, causing the yams to occupy a larger space within the fabric. Given that the fibers have been smoothed and there is no appreciable shrinkage, these yams are free to move apart and occupy a larger area.

Application of this system produced no loss in the mechanical strength and elongation of the fabrics. It is interesting to note that there was significant decrease in Young's modulus of the fabrics treated with equal and/or low amounts of enzyme and sodium sulfite, which indicated that they were not as stiff as their untreated counterparts.

The reported two-step beaching and biopolishing system can be recommended for shrinkage control in wool fabrics.

Third Example: Enzymes other than alkaline protease (e. g., Esperase which is a serine protease) may be utilized in the present invention. For example, the cystine protease papain may be utilized. A Rotatable Central Composite statistical design consisting of 31 experiments was utilized to investigate the importance of various concentrations of papain and other treatment bath constituents for achieving shrinkage control, smooth handle and whiteness.

Treatments were carried out using woven wool fabrics (TF523). Pretreatment was similar to that used in the H202/EsperasetE) systems where 1L pretreatment bath contained the formulation as follows: 3g/l NaOH, dicyandiamide, 1g/l gluconic acid, 1 g/l triethanolamine, 20all HZOa (30%), 2g/1 Triton X-114, LR: 25: 1. Pretreatment and papain treatments were carried out in LP2. Pretreatment was applied for 40 minutes at 30°C after which the samples were rinsed in cold water. The pretreated samples were squeezed to remove excess water and sequentially treated with the papain systems Treatment with Papain was as follows : 1. 2g/1 papain (crude powder from Sigma, 2. 1 units/mg solid) 3% owf, 0. 4g/l Na2SO3 (1% owf), 0. 1g/l cystein (0.25% owf), 0. 3g/1 ascorbic acid (0.75% owf), lg/l Triton X-114, lOml/1 phosphate buffer (pH 7.0), LR : 1: 25. The papain treatment was carried out for 60 minutes at 50 °C, followed by rinsing in cold water and air-drying. The phosphate buffer was prepared as follows 76g NaH2PO4.H2O, 60g NaOH, 42g EDTA-4Na. 2H2O, added water to total 1L.

Property values for the pretreated/ treated fabrics : Properties Blank Treated samples Weight loss (%) 1. 4 3. 2 Dry burst strength loss (%) 8.4 -0.3 Wet burst strength loss (%) 1. 8 9. 6 Shrinkage (%) 8. 9-2.1 Whiteness increase (%) 3.2 63.3 Yellowness decrease (%) 1.8 24.2 After 5 circles washing, there was no evidence of pilling; however untreated, blank and only pretreated all became fuzzed. Under these pretreatment/treatment conditions, the fabrics showed soft handle. Higher concentrations of papain and sulfite caused the stiff fabric handle.

Fourth Example: Seven different groups of woven fabrics were chosen for pretreatment and enzyme treatment, including TF154 Spun Acetate (Di-) Suiting, Bright luster, ISO 105/F07, 10"L x 9"W; 4006 Unbleached 100% Cotton, 13"L x 12"W ; TF361 Spun Nylon 6.6 Dupont Type 2, 10"L x 9"W; TF Polyester, unsoiled STC WFK 30A, 10"L x 9"W ; TF266 Spun Viscose Challis, 12"L x 10"W ; TF 4504 Union Cloth 62% Wool Warp/38% Cotton Filling, 12"L x 10"W ; and Forstmann 50% Wool/48% Nomex Nylon/1% Kevlar/1% Conducting Fiber. The weight of the samples was about 10 grams, the weight of nylon fabric sample was 7.5 grams, and the weight of wool/kevlar sample was 14 grams. Each group included 8 pieces of fabric samples, 4 samples were carried out for enzyme treatment and the other 4 pieces were used for control sample. Two enzyme treated and two control samples were utilized for shrinkage testing, the other two treated and two control samples were used for measuring tensile strength.

The method of the present invention was applied to all groups of woven fabric samples with liquor ratio of 10: 1. All pretreatment and enzyme treatment were carried out in LP2 Launder- Ometer and Lab Dyeing system. The whiteness index of the fabric samples was measured before and after enzyme treatment using Color-insights TM QC Manager Software (BYK- Gardner, Inc.). The tensile strength was tested for both treated and control samples before machine wash and dry process using ATSM Test Methods D 1682-64 for Breaking Load and Elongation of Textile Fabrics. AATCC Test Method 135-1992, Dimensional Change in Automatic Horne Laundering of Woven and Knit Fabrics, "Alternative Washing and Drying Conditions" was used to determine the area shrinkage after 5 machine wash/tumble dry cycles.

Property Measurements : The following table shows the different of whiteness/yellowness index of the treated samples; there is obvious improvement of the whiteness of cotton, viscose and wool/cotton fabrics after enzyme treatment, the whiteness of treated acetate and nylon also increased visually : Differences in Whiteness/Yellowness Index of Treated Fabrics Sample WI WISTDEV YI YISTDEV Acetate 6. 82 0. 628-1. 84 0. 288 Cotton 36. 25 0.207-9. 69 0. 247 Nylon 6. 74 2. 321-2. 28 0.309 Polyester 1. 18 0.601-0. 20 0. 156 Viscose 13.52 0.662-2. 71 0.191 Wool/Cotton 27.08 0.535-8. 04 0.195 Wool/Nomex A K/S K/S STDEV /Kevlar 2.43 0. 192 The result of area shrinkage after 5 machine wash/dry cycles is shown in the following table.

The area shrinkage of enzyme treated cotton, viscose and wool/cotton fabric reduced 8.42%, 17.95% and 10.36% respectively; the area shrinkage of acetate, nylon and wool/kevlar fabric after enzyme treatment also improved to some extent. The appearance of the fabric after 5 machine wash/dry cycles had some changes, more wrinkle of treated acetate after 5 machine wash/dry cycles compared to the control fabric and less wrinkle of treated viscose after machine wash/dry cycles.

Area Shrinkage Percentage after S Machine Wash/Dry Cycles Sample Area Shrinkage (%) Area Shrinkage (%) After 5 wash/dry STDEV Acetate Treated 3. 85 0. 148 Control 9. 11 0 488 Cotton Treated 1.28 0. 269 Control 9.70 0.481 Nylon Treated 0.63 0.283 Control4. 010. 134 Polyester Treated0. 4. 20. 311 Control0. 780 Treated 0.67 0.170 Control18. 620. 057 Wool/Cotton Treated 1 16 0 665 Control 11. 52 1. 202 Wool/Nomex Treated 0.25 0.219 /Kevlar Control 1. 41 0. 217 The breaking tensile strength of nylon fabric after enzyme treatment and before machine wash increased about 17%; the tensile strength of treated cotton fabric also increased 4%.

There is almost no change of tensile strength for acetate and little decrease of tensile strength for polyester fabric. The tensile strength of enzyme treated viscose and wool/cotton fabric reduced 7% and 11% respectively shown in the following table. Since the pretreatment and enzyme treatment process has caused the pre-shrinkage of the fabric, the corrected breaking strength is also shown in the following table.

Change of Tensile Strength after Enzyme Treatment Sample Tensile Strength Tensile Tensile Corrected (kg) Strength Strength Tensile After treatment STDEV Change (%) Strength Before wash/dry b ! arn Acetate Treated 24.11 0.297 + 3.39 1.23 Control 23.32 1. 8101. 24 Cotton Treated 22. 71 0.495 + 4.70 0.57 Control 21.69 0. 467 0. 56 Nylon Treated 53. 08 0. 877 + 17. 28 2.25 Control 45. 26 0. 764 1. 92 Polyester Treated 52. 74 0. 141-2. 15 1.63 Control 53. 90 1. 273 1. 67 Viscose Treated 22. 79 0. 325-7. 02 0. 68 Control 24.51 0. 071 0. 74 Wool/Cotton Treated 17.85 0.297-10. 71 0. 69 Control 19.99 0. 129 0.83 Wool/Nomex Treated *40. 76 0. 170-5. 60 1.47 /Kevlar Control *43. 18 0. 186 1. 56 'The tensile strength of wool/nomex/Kevlar was measured after 5 machine wash/dry cycles All of the references cited herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. Also incorporated by reference in their entirety are the following references : U. S. Patent 6, 140, 109; Bell, V.A., et al., Proceedings of the 7th International Wool Textile Research Conference, Tokyo, IV, 292-301 (1985); Bellamy, L. J., The Infra-red Spectra of Complex Molecules, New York: John Wiley Press, 163-164, 167, 173, (1966); Bourn, A. , et al., Proceedings of the 7th International Wool Textile Research Conference, Tokyo, IV, 272-279 (1985) Byrne, K. M., et al., SoR Finishes for Wool, Proc. Textile Fashioning the Future, The Textile Institute, U. K., 317-325 (1989); Cegarra, J and Gacen, J. , The Bleaching of Wool with Hydrogen Peroxide, Wool Science Review 59, International Wool Secretariat, Yorks (1983) ; Choplin, H. , Introduction to the Proteases, University of Tours: François Rabelais, http ://delphi. phys. univ-tours. fr/Prolysis/introprotease. html, 1999; Cockett, K. R. F. , Production of Superwash Knitwear by Batch Processing Routes, Wool Science Review 56, International wool Secretariat, Ilkley, pp. 3-44 (1980) ; Davidson, A. N. and Preston, R. , J. Text. Inst. , 47, 685-703 (1956); Evans, D. J. and Lanczki, M. , Textile Res. J. , 67, (6), 435-444 (1997); Evans, D. J. , et al., Proceedings of the 7th International Wool Textile Research Conference, Tokyo, Vol. 1, 135-142 (1985); Fornelli, S. , The Enzymatic Big Bang for the Textile Industry, Sandoz Chemicals, LTD. 05994.00. 94e, Muttenz, Switzerland, 36,37 (1994); Gerhartz, W. (Ed.), Enzymes in Industry, VCH Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, D-6940 Weinheim, Germany, 1990; K. Cockett, et al. , Proc. 6th International Wool Textile Research Conference, Petoria, S. Africa, V1, 1-16 (1980) ; Keith, R. F. , et al. , J. Soc. Dyers Colourists, 96, (5) 214-223 1980; Leeder, J. D., et al., Proceedings of the 7th International Wool Textile Research Conference, Tokyo, IV, pp.

312-321 (1985) ; Levene, R., et al., Applying Protease to Confer Improved Shrink-resistance to Wool, J. Soc. Dyers Colourists, 112, (1) 6-10 1996 ; Lipson, M., Unshrinkable Wool Produced by Alcoholic Alkali, J. Text. Inst., 38, (8), 279-285 (1947); McDevitt, J. P. and Shi, X. C. , Method for Treatment of Wool, US. Patent 6,099, 588, Novo Nordisk Biochem North America, Franklinton, NC, 1999; Mehta, R. D., Proceedings of the 7th International Wool Textile Research Conference, Tokyo, IV, 262-271 (1985) ; O'Connor, R. T., Field, E. T., and Singleton, S. , J. Amer. Oil Chem. Soc., 28 (4) 154-160 (1951); Rensburg, N. and Barkhuysen, F., Proceedings of the 7th International Textile Wool Research Conference, Tokyo, IV, 302-311 (1985) ; Rutley, R.O., J. Soc. Dyers Colourists, 86(8), 337-345 (1970); Sinclair, R.G., et al., J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 74, 10 2570-2578 78 (1952); Stigter, D., J. Amer. Oil. Chem. Soc. 48(7), 340-343 (1971); Sun, K., Zhou, W., and Wang, J., Book of Papers 1998 International AATCC Conference Exhibition, Philadelphia, 299-309 (1998) ; Sweetman, B. J., and Maclaren, J. A., Textile Res.

J. 35 (4), 315-322 (1965); Weck, M. , Textile Praxis International 53,144-147 (1991) ; Wood, F. C. , J. Soc. Dyers Colourists 68 (12) 485-495 1952; Zahn, H. , et al. , Textile Res. J.

64 (9), 554-555 (1994) ; Box, G. E. P., Hunter, W. G. , and Hunter, J. S., Statistics for Experimenters, An Introduction to Design, Data Analysis, and Model Building, Chapter 15, John Wiley &amp; Sons, NY, 653, (1978); El-Sayed, H. , et al., Coloration Technology, 117 (4), 234-238 (2001); Guise, G. B. , and Smith, G. C. , Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 30, 4099-4111 (1985) ; Hanekom, E. C. , and Barkhuysen, F. A., SAWTRI Bulletin, 8 (2), 19-21 (1974); Jovan I., et al. , J. Text. Inst., 89 Part 1, (2), 390-400 (1998) ; Lewis, J. , Wool Science Review 55, 23-42 (1978); Lewis, J. , Wool Science Review 54,3-29 (1977); Weideman, E. and Grabherr, H. , SAWTRI Bulletin, 10 (2), 22-26 (1976); and Weideman, E. , and Grabherr, H. , SAWTRI Bulletin, 8 (2), 22-27 (1974).

Thus, in view of the above, the present invention concerns (in part) the following: A method of improving shrink-resistance of (or a method of treating) natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or mixtures thereof, or fabrics or yams composed of natural fibers, synthetic fibers, or blends thereof, comprising (or consisting essentially of or consisting of) contacting fibers (or fabric or yam) with NaOH, H2O2, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant, and optionally subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with protease and non-ionic surfactant and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer; said method does not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid.

The above method, wherein said method does not utilize dichloroisocyanuric acid, chloroamines, peroxymonosulfuric acid, monoperoxyphthalic acid, permanganate, chlorine gas, sodium hypochlorite, or aminoplast resins.

The above method, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula : in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.

The above method, wherein x is 7 to 8 or 9 to 10.

The above method, said method comprising (or consisting essentially of or consisting of) contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with NaOH, H202, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant, and subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with protease and optionally sodium sulfite and optionally triethanolamine and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.

The above method, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula: in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.

The above method, wherein x is 9 to 10.

The above method, said method comprising (or consisting essentially of or consisting of) contacting the fibers (or fabric or yam) with NaOH, HO,, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant ; said method does not utilize protease.

The above method, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula : in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.

The above method, wherein x is 7 to 8.

The above method, said method comprising (or consisting essentially of or consisting of) contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with NaOH, H, gluconic acid, dicyandiamide, and non-ionic surfactant, and subsequently contacting the fibers (or fabric or yarn) with protease, sodium sulfite, triethanolamine, and Triton X-l 14, and optionally polyacrylamide polymer.

The above method, wherein said non-ionic surfactant is an alkylaryl polyether alcohol having the following structural formula: in which x indicates the average number of ethylene oxide units in the ether side chain and x ranges from 7 to 10.

The above method, wherein x is 7 to 8.

Products produced by the above methods.

Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of this specification or practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with the true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.

TABLE I. Sequential treatments of wool fabrics for shrinkage control following a seven-factorial. design. Step 1 : Pretreatment* Step 2 : Treatment Xl X2 X3 X4 X5 X6 X7 pH* Experiments NaOH Liquor time, GA DD HzOz Enzyme (Rows) (g/L) Ratio min. (g/L) (g/L) (30% (% owf) wtv) 1 1 1 : 20 20 1 3 20mI/L 0 2 3 1 : 20 20 0 0 20ml/L 2 3 1 1 : 30 20 0 3 0 2 4 3 1 : 30 20 1 0 0 0 5 1 1 : 20 40 1 0 0 2 6 3 1 : 20 40 0 3 0 0 7 1 1 : 30 40 0 0 20mI/L 0 8 3 1 : 30 40 1 3 20ml/L 2 *pH range for NaOH : 11. 4 to 12. 2.

TABLE II. The Physical Properties of Samples Treated in Experiments 1-8 and the Control. Experiments Weight Thickness ARegain Shrink-aï AYI Strength (Rows) loss (%) (%) (%) age (%) (%) (%) (Kg) 1 1. 18 31. 9 10. 2 9. 16-4. 01 0. 03 20. 8 2 22. 3 0. 17 7. 86 5. 16 144-32. 5 6. 40 3 : t34 5 O. 4 646. SQ 4 1. 73 60. 0 10. 3 30. 6-77. 4 20. 9 17. 3 5 27. 0-1. 74 5. 37 11. 6 72. 9-19. 6 4. 80 6 1. 72 65. 6 7. 62 35. 7-60. 4 15. 1 16. 9 7 0. 56 36. 9 10. 9 9. 27 27. 6-7. 40 19. 8 8 39. 0-21. 4 10. 6-0. 86 194. 7-45. 9 5. 20 control na na na 21. 2 na na 20. 6 TABLE III. Importance of Factors from Treatments 1 to 8 of Table I.

Factors Weight AThick-ARegain Relative #White- #Yellow- Strength, loss ness (%) Shrink-ness ness Maximum (%) (%) age (%) (%) (%) Load (Kg) X1 12. 9 29. 6 1. 42 28.2 40.4 1. 15-4. 10 X2 12.2-12. 7 9. 24-10. 2 56. 5-11. 9-2.10 X3 19.9-20. 4-2. 50-1. 60 108-29. 6-2. 30 X4 21.2-41. 6 1.64 -12.0 10.7-3. 35 0.50 X5 13.4-11. 6 2.50-0. 30 27. 4-8. 67-0.90 X6 9. 52-83. 9 7. 68-67. 6 363-85. 5 8. 70 X7 106-209-6. 72-56.5 589-143-53. 9 TABLE IV : Area Shrinkage (%) of samples treated in. Table I.

Experiments (Rows) Initial Shrinkage Relative Shrinkage Overall Shrinkage (%) (%) (%) 1 18.3 9.16 25. 8 2 10.7 5.16 15.3 3 17. 9 12.4 28. 1 4 27.7 30. 6 49. 8 5 16. 6 11. 6 26.3 54.9 7 18.5 9.27 26.1 8 5.04 -0.86 4.22 Control na 21.2 21.2 -TABLE V. Treatments without Enzyme, 30°C, 30 minutes.

Sample NaOH Triton GA DD H2O2 g/L X-1142 g/L g/L g/L (30% w/v) 61 1 2 1 3 20 ml/l 79 3 2 1 3 20 ml/l 101 Blank : processing conditions without additives TABLE VI. Physical Properties of Fabrics Treated According to Treatments in Table V.

Sample Weight #Thick- # Regain Relative #White- #Yellow- Strength loss ness (%) (%) Shrink- ness ness (%) (Kg) (%) age (%) * (%)<BR> 61 0.60 15.3 12.30 7.34 69.5 -14.7 21.6 79 0.94 14.6 8.20 2.95 76.6 -18.4 21.4 101 0.08 8.64-2. 34 13. 7 37.7-8. 06 18. 8 *InitiaI and overall shrinkages (not shown in Table 6) are as follows : #61 = 7. 96% and 14. 3% ; #79 = 7. 59% and 103.%; Blank = 6. 71% and 19. 5% respectively.

TABLE VII. Enzyme System with PAA/ Triton X-114. Pretreatment* NaOH Triton GA DD H202 (#61) lg/1 X-114 lg/1 3g/l (30% w/v) . 20mol Treatment TritonX-114, 1 g/L (#5 1) PAA, 2 % owf No enzyme Treatment Triton X-114, 1 g/L (#57) PAA, 2 % owf 1. 5 g/L enzyme Treatment TritonX-114, 1 g/L (#99) PAA, 2 % owf enzyme, 2. 0% owf, together with 2% owf Na2S03 *Pretreatment #61 was used for PAA/ Triton X114 treatments, #51, #57, and #99.

TABLE Vin. Property Values of Fabrics Treated According to Table VII.

Sample. Weight A A Shrink-A White-A Yellow-Strength Loss, Thick-Regain age, % ness ness (Kg) % ness 51-1. 43 28.6-7. 86 6.61 76.5-14. 8 23.1 57 0. 37 27. 1-9. 08 7.73 127-23.7 21.2 99 5. 41 26. 0-11. 9 1. 16 205-40. 8 15. 0 Blank-1. 34 25.9-12. 3 21. 9 22. 6-8. 34 1 16. 6 Sample Initial Shrinkage, % Relative Shrinkage, % Overall Shrinkage, % 51 10.7 6.61 16.6 57 7. 44 7.73 14. 6 99 8. 88 1.16 9.94 Blank 11. 3 21. 9 30. 7 TABLE IX. Central Composite Design for Enzymatic Treatment.

Run Na2SO3 (% owf) Enzyme (% owf). Time (Minutes) 1 0.5 0.5 30 2 0.5 0. 5 50 3 0.5 1. 5 30 4 0.5 1.5 50 5 1. 5 0.5 30 6 1.5 0.5 50 7 1.5 1.5 30 8 1.5 1.5 50- 9 0.0 1.0 40 10 2.0 1.0 40 11 1.0 0.0 40 12 1.0 2.0 40 13+ 1.0 1.0 20 14+ 1. 0 1.0 60 15+ 1. 0 1.0 40 16+ 1.0 1.0 40 17+ 1. 0 1.0 40 18+ 1.0 1.0 40 19+ 1.0 1.0 40 20+ 1.0 1. 0 40 * P Only pretreatment blank C Control, wash/dry *Samples"P"were only pretreated with alkaline peroxide/DD/GA system without further enzymatic treatment for 30 minutes.

**Samples "B" as the blank were pretreated and treated using the same conditions with Run 1-2 but only water in the treatment bath for 30 minutes.

***Sampls "C" were not treated but washed 5 times and air-dried.

+These runs represent the center points for estimating curvature in the construction of the 3D graphs for the central composite design Figure 15.