Importance of Enzyme Immobilization

Enzyme immobilization has been around for more than 100 years, and it still remains one of the most essential industrial technologies today. The reason for this is that immobilized enzymes have a wide variety of applications and are highly versatile. Over recent years, the enzyme immobilization process has been improved, making it simpler, quicker, and more efficient. And this has served as another motivating factor to utilize this process. Keeping this in mind and to understand the purpose of enzyme immobilization, let's take a closer look at it in this insight.

What are immobilized enzymes?

It is essential to understand what immobilized enzymes actually are before we can discuss the importance of enzyme immobilization. Enzymes immobilized on insoluble and inert materials are referred to as immobilized enzymes. The immobilization of enzymes could increase their resistance to temperature and pH. As a result, the enzymes remain stationary throughout the process, which makes it much easier for them to be separated and reused after each process step. However, the quality of the immobilized enzymes produced is greatly influenced by the carrier type and the process used to immobilize them.

The purpose of immobilization

For heterogeneous chemical catalysts, immobilized enzymes are easy to remove and re-use in batch and continuous use in packed bed modes. As Gardossi et al pointed out in Chem. Soc. Rev., 2013,42, 6262-6276, immobilization however, serves other purposes.

Authors state that solvents would not work with free enzymes due to aggregation, for starters. Since enzymes are not soluble in aqueous buffer, immobilization on carriers offers a method for loading biocatalysts at higher volumes. A successful immobilization will also provide the stabilization required for long-term operation in an industrial setting. Immobilization may also increase enzyme activity.

In an industrial setting, the ability to reuse the enzyme is especially important. The cost of the enzyme is typically a significant portion of the operating costs of a biocatalytic process. Immobilizing the enzyme will significantly increase the cost. However, because immobilization allows for easy recycling of the enzyme, the cost of the enzyme and immobilization will be recouped after a sufficient number of re-uses.

Other purposes to opt for immobilization

  • To improve the functional efficiency of enzymes
  • Reuse of enzymes
  • The processes require less labor input
  • Cost effective
  • Minimum reaction time
  • less chance of product contamination
  • Stability of the product
  • Better process control
  • High enzyme substrate ratio

Thus, we can say the process of enzyme immobilization has been around for over a century. In spite of the fact that they are more beneficial in certain industries than others, it seems that many industries understand the potential benefits of this process, and they are developing it. It is therefore highly likely that no matter what industry you operate in, enzyme immobilization will be a necessity sooner or later. 

Contact us today to make your immobilization processes simpler, quicker, and more efficient.

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