Introduction to enzyme immobilization

Enzymes are nature’s sustainable catalysts. They are biocompatible, biodegradable, and made from renewable resources. Some biotechnological processes can be simplified by extracting enzymes out of the microorganisms that produce them, and then using those enzymes to convert reactants into products.

Furthermore, the use of enzymes generally eliminates the need for functional group protection and/or activation, affording synthetic routes that are more step-economic, generate less waste, and are more energy-efficient than conventional organic syntheses. Enzymatic processes, in short, are more environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and, ultimately, more sustainable. In this insight, we will discuss the immobilization of enzymes, their types, needs, and applications.

What is immobilization?

Immobilzaton of enzymes is defined along the lines of:

“The term ‘immobilized enzymes’ refers to ‘enzymes physically confined or localized in a certain defined region of space with retention of their catalytic activities, and which can be used repeatedly and continuously.”
- Tosa T, Mori T, Fuse N, Chibata I. Studies on continuous enzyme reactions. I. Screening of carriers for preparation of water-insoluble aminoacylase. Enzymologia. 1966;31: 214224.

Immobilization is the confinement of the enzyme to another phase than the phase of the substrate and product. It is almost exclusively enzymes attached to a solid phase of synthetic or natural origin and a substrate and product in solution.

In simple words the phenomenon in which enzymes attach to an inert insoluble material is called enzyme immobilization the several ways in which enzyme immobilization can be done these include adsorption, ionic binding, covalent binding and entrapment method.

Adsorption this method involves binding of enzymes on inert carrier such as activated charcoal silica or clay the adsorption involves weak attractive forces such as hydrogen bonding and vanderwall interaction because of these weak attractive forces the enzyme activity is not affected however changing pH ionic strength and temperature can affect enzyme binding.

Ionic binding of enzymes can be carried out using ion exchange resin these materials have a positive or negative charge depending on the pH the most common ion exchange materials used.

Covalent binding is an alternative to physical adsorption. Physical adsorption is not required for covalent binding, which is the covalent retention of the enzyme on support surfaces. The strong binding force of the covalent binding approach is its key benefit since it prevents enzyme loss when utilising immobilised enzymes.

Entrapment is the act of physically containing them in a constrained area. By creating a highly cross-linked network of polymers in the presence of the enzyme, enzymes can be confined within cross-linked polymers.

Classification of immobilized enzymes

The enzymes were divided into two categories: "native enzymes" and "modified enzymes." The immobilized enzymes belonged to the modified enzymes class and are now divided into two categories: "entrapped immobilized enzymes" and "bound immobilized enzymes.”

Advantages of immobilized enzymes

In many cases, immobilized enzymes have proven to be highly efficient for commercial applications. They have several advantages over enzymes in solution.

Some advantages of immobilized enzymes over soluble enzymes include:

  • increased enzyme stability
  • reduced enzyme costs
  • greater ease of enzyme separation and recovery for reutilization
  • possibility of operating continuously
  • easy product separation
  • reduced effluent problems
  • In some cases, increased activity.

An immobilized enzyme may exhibit selectively altered chemical or physical properties, as well as provide a better environment for enzyme activity. As a result, immobilized enzymes are frequently more stable than free enzymes in solution.

Applications of Immobilized Enzymes


Immobilized enzymes are already widely used in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food, and cosmetics industries. However, it is safe to predict that the use of biocatalysts will grow in the future. We at SpinChem have applications of immobilized enzymes with rotating bed reactor and are listed below.

  1. Screening of Immobilized Enzymes for fast and convenient reaction optimization
  2. Recycling of immobilized enzymes using rotating bed reactor technology
  3. Biocatalysis by immobilize enzyme in a rotating bed technology
  4. Multi‐enzyme cascade reaction in a miniplant two‐phase‐system: model validation and mathematical optimization

Get started with Biocatalysis and the development of your heterogenous reactions. Get in touch for more information on how an RBR can be used to efficiently use your enzymes, and we will assist you in selecting the best system for your application.        

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