Immobilized enzymes and their activity losses.

Immobilized enzymes are used in various industries, such as the food and pharmaceutical industries, bioremediation, detergent production, and textile production, etc. Aside from operating stability, volume specific biocatalyst loading, recyclability, and simplified downstream processing, immobilized enzymes often have advantages over soluble enzymes in industry. But there are limitations to them, such as the loss of enzyme activity and the difficulty of mass transport. A detailed discussion of the immobilized enzyme and its activity losses can be found in this insight.

In a tutorial review published in Chem Soc Rev 2013, Liese and Hilterhaus list factors that contribute individually or jointly to the loss of apparent enzyme activity in running 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

Liese and Hilterhaus claim that determining the primary cause of an activity loss is difficult, but a remedy is always required. In their opinion, sometimes it might be a process condition like temperature, solvent choice, or reactant concentration. Inhibition of reactants or product is also a major factor.

According to the authors, a better-suited type of reactor can be used in the latter case. What is the best reactor to choose?


The RBR could be a good reactor for overcoming immobilized enzyme activity losses in this case. 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® Rotating Bed Reactor (RBR), you can eliminate slow reaction kinetics caused by poor mass transfer between your solution and the solid phase. The SpinChem® RBR 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, active carbon, and water adsorbents. Utilizing the SpinChem® RBR typically results in faster processes, higher yields, or reduced consumption of reagents, depending on the type of process.

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

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