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CASE STUDY: EMPA


The use of laccases is nothing to worry about, Schubert assures us. The proteins are non-hazardous to skin, biologically degradable, and thus harmless to people and animals. They perform their job on wood at room temperature, without using acids or alkalis beforehand. However, a great deal of detailed work is still required before enzymes


can really take off in industrial wood treatment. Not all variants of the laccase enzyme are equally suited to all types of wood; the enzymes must first be characterised and compared. Additionally, the cost-effective and efficient manufacture of laccases from white-rot fungi have to be investigated further, and optimised quite a bit!


Mark Schubert compares a sample of fungus-treated wood to a non-treated sample (left). The fibre panel he is holding (above) can be manufactured without chemical adhesives; the wood is self-bonding.


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