A method for enzymatically separating the non-inked cellulose fibers from the inked cellulose fibers in cellulosic materials. The cellulosic material, such as newsprint, is introduced into a first chamber containing a plastic canvas basket. This first chamber is in fluid communication, via plastic tubing, with a second chamber containing cellobiase beads in a plastic canvas basket. Cellulase is then introduced into the first chamber. A programmable pump then controls the flow rate between the two chambers. The action of cellulase and stirring in the first chamber results in the production of a slurry of newsprint pulp in the first chamber. This slurry contains non-inked fibers, inked fibers, and some cellobiose. The inked fibers and cellobiose flow from the first chamber to the second chamber, whereas the non-inked fibers remain in the first chamber because they are too large to pass through the pores of the plastic canvas basket. The resulting non-inked and inked fibers are then recovered.
This invention was made with Government support under contract DE-AC05-84OR21400 awarded by the Division of Chemical Sciences, Office of basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy to Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Inc. and the Government has certain rights in this invention.