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Biocatalysis in Chemical Industry

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Biocatalysis in Chemical Industry

Post  vaseline on Thu Jun 23, 2011 10:04 pm

The development of biological technology provides the probability for biology to interact and cooperate with many other disciplines such as chemical industry. Many conventional chemical enterprises have already made use of biological technology to improve traditional chemical engineering process. The use of biocatalysis is one of typical applications.

All kinds of reactions of chemical products are conducted under so many severe conditions such as high temperatures, high pressures and specific catalysts. On contrast, those various complex reactions within organisms are conducted by specific enzyme catalysis in at ambient temperatures and pressures. The sources of enzyme include animals, plants and microorganisms. Among these three categories, microorganisms are the primary source, which is decided by many reasons. Microorganisms have a quite large number of varieties with rich resources and they are easy to be cultivated. What’s more, under the manual control, it is suitable for microorganisms to be applied in large-scale industrialized production, which can accelerate the application of biological technology in chemical industry. However, because of complex purification, difficult recycle and poor stability of enzyme, the application of enzyme in chemical industry is extremely affected. In order to solve such problems, people combine enzyme with carrier materials containing numerous gaps such as alginate, agar and cellulose by various means of physical adsorption, chemical bonding or biological integration. This kind of immobilization technique of enzyme can realize continuous process of catalytic reaction, which provides the industrialized probability for the production of biological synthetic products including chemical products.

In order to maintain catalytic activity of biological enzyme in the process of extracting, purifying and immobilizing, people usually make use of cell immobilization or microorganism immobilization, which don’t need to separate enzymes with its cells and organisms, but to immobilize the whole cell or the organism. The kind of immobilization is rather useful to synthetic products which are produced through multistep reactions catalyzed by various enzymes in organisms or their cells. The multistep reactions within organisms can be finished in one step by microorganisms.

The polyacrylamides produced by biological catalysis are typical biochemical products which develop quickly in recent years. The production process has saved many steps than that before, such as the recycle of acrylonitrile and the separation of copper catalyst. It has many advantages such as high product purity, high selectivity and high conversion efficiency (99.9%). In addition, it can greatly save much investment and energy with a 10 percent lower production cost and 30 percent lower total investment than before. In 1980s, Japan realized biosynthetic industrialization whose polyacrylamides products are much better than those produced by chemical synthesis whether in the aspect of products cost or in product purity. Rapid and great achievements have been also obtained in our country. In 2000, the industrialization of polyacrylamides in ton class was realized. At present, the output of polyacrylamides produced by biological synthesis has reached 100,000 tons per year, which is in international top-class level. Biological catalysis also plays an important role in the semisynthetic antibiotics production. Many remarkable outcomes have also been achieved.


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