Immobilized Enzymes and their Activity Losses

Immobilized enzymes are used in various industries, such as the food and pharmaceutical industries, for bioremediation, or in detergent and textile production, and many more.

Aside from improved operating stability, volume specific biocatalyst loading, recyclability, and simplified downstream processing, immobilized enzymes often prove advantageous in industry compared to soluble enzymes. However, they might also come with limitations such as reduced enzyme activity or worsened mass transport. A brief introduction to immobilized enzymes and their activity losses is provided here.

A tutorial review authored by Liese and Hilterhaus (Chem. Soc. Rev., 2013) lists key phenomena and factors that individually or jointly contribute to the loss of apparent enzymatic activity in biocatalytic processes:

  1. Thermal deactivation

  2. Oxidation

  3. Organic solvents or high reactant concentrations

  4. Interfacial areas of gas-liquid or liquid-liquid

  5. Chemical instability of the support

  6. Deactivation by a product

  7. Deactivation by a starting material

  8. Abrasion due to shear forces, stirrer and particle–particle collision

  9. Desorption of metal ions required for activity and/or stability

  10. Leaching of the enzyme from the carrier

The authors conclude that although determining the primary cause of activity loss is difficult, it is vital to finding an effective remedy. Sometimes it might be a process condition like temperature, solvent choice, or reactant concentration. Inhibition by reactants or products is also a frequently critical factor. According to this review, a better-suited type of reactor can be used in the latter case. - However, the question remains:

What Reactor to Choose?

The rotating bed reactor (RBR) provides a great technological solution to overcome a variety of causes for immobilized enzyme activity loss: Shear force abrasion, stirring issues, and particle–particle collisions will be resolved immediately. However, an RBR is also an excellent tool for optimizing reaction conditions. For example, screening of temperature, solvent, reactant concentrations, and carrier material. Furthermore, recycling and long-term studies will help determine the stability of the support, desorption of metal ions, and/or degradation of the enzyme.

With a SpinChem® RBR, you can eliminate slow reaction kinetics caused by poor external mass transfer between your solution and the solid phase. The SpinChem® design is flexible and can be used for heterogeneous reactions involving a variety of solid phases. Furthermore, it can be used for purification with metal scavengers, activated carbon, and water adsorbents. Utilizing our RBR systems typically results in faster processes, higher yields, or reduced consumption of reagents, depending on the type of process.

Contact us today and we will help you with elucidating the cause of your enzyme activity loss, process development, and whether an RBR is a good choice for your lab or process scale reactor.

What is the cause of activity loss for your immobilized enzymes?

A. Liese and L. Hilterhaus, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2013, 42(15), pp. 6236-6249.

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