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Lowering the cost of immobilised biocatalysts

An EU-funded consortium researched on the development of enzyme immobilisation processes aiming to make industrial biocatalysis more affordable.
Lowering the cost of immobilised biocatalysts
Various sectors of industrial manufacturing use biocatalytic production processes. Until recently, biocatalysis in manufacture was based mainly on the use of whole microorganisms or low-cost enzymes. The attachment of enzymes to inert, insoluble material can provide increased resistance to changes in reaction conditions and holds enzymes in place throughout the reaction. This has the advantage of clean product recovery and reuse of the biocatalyst, thereby lowering the production cost. However, enzyme immobilisation is a rather expensive process limiting the commercial availability of immobilised biocatalysts (enzymes).

To overcome this, the project ‘Composite materials for the immobilisation of biocatalysts’ (Combio) aimed to develop cost-effective enzyme stabilisation and immobilisation technologies which can be applied to commercial processes. The consortium used various support materials and novel internal cross-linking methods to develop and maintain micro-environments with enhanced stability and catalytic functionality.

Protocols developed during the course of the project had applications as diverse as food manufacture, textile processing and fuel cell components. Furthermore, the immobilised biocatalysts developed were designed to be applied in familiar chemical reactor types such as stirred tanks, packed beds and fluidised beds. The consortium also incorporated magnetic particles in the supports, allowing the development of novel magnetically stabilised fluidised bed reactors (MSFBR).

Overall, the Combio project succeeded in developing cost-effective enzyme immobilisation techniques whose commercial implementation will reduce the cost of biocatalysis.

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