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The Commercial Application of Enzyme Technology

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Introduction

"The Commercial Application of Enzyme Technology" Enzymes are used in particular industries for a number of reasons. Firstly they accelerate reactions by lowering the activation energy. Enzymes are proteins, which determines their specificity. Consequently they react with only one substrate to produce a specific product. This minimises the production of unwanted by-products. They work at moderate temperatures, neutral pH and normal atmospheric pressures and are therefore energy saving, and relatively inexpensive to produce. They are biodegradable and are therefore environmentally friendly, causing less pollution. The majority of enzymes which industries use originate from microbes, other alternatives included plants and animals; however, these aren't used as frequently. Microbes are generally preferred to plants and animals as sources of enzymes because they are generally cheaper to produce. However, enzymes do have certain disadvantages. They are extremely sensitive to changes in pH and temperature. As the temperature increases so does the rate of reaction until the optimum temperature is reached. However, the pH must be kept neutral, if it becomes too acidic or alkaline, then the enzymes could denature. Therefore, for the commercial use of enzymes it is better to choose enzymes with a fairly broad optimum pH range. ...read more.

Middle

This particular enzyme is used in the immobilised form because it is relatively expensive to produce, therefore it is easier to recover the enzyme and reuse them. Enzymes have been employed in the detergent industry for years, they are depended upon to remove proteins, starches and lipids, which can originate from blood, grass, sweat, milk etc. The main enzyme used in the detergent industry initially was protease, which catalyses the breakdown of protein molecules such as blood. However, recent developments have introduced "a cocktail of enzymes" (www.enzymes.co.uk) which included lipase's and amylases. Lipase's concentrate on the breakdown of fatty substances such as oils. They hydrolyse the ester bonds in triglycerides, which are a major component of fats. Amylase focuses on the breakdown of starchy deposits, from products such as food. The advantage of using these enzymes is that they are specific, thus removing the desired stain without damaging fabrics. Cellulases were also introduced because when detergents were used "small fibres are raised from the surface of cotton thread, resulting in a change in the 'feel' of the fabric and, particularly, in the lowering of the brightness of colours." (http://www.sbu.ac.uk/biology/enztech/detergent.html) Consequently cellulase was introduced to remove the small fibres, without damaging surrounding, major fibres. ...read more.

Conclusion

Enzymes are particularly used in "soy sauce production, gelatin hydrolysis and pet food manufacture." (www.enzymes.co.uk) However, enzymes can cause "quality impairment when they continue to work beyond the point of perfection." (Biological Sciences Review May 1998) Flavours, colour and texture can change as a result of this. For example "the loss of colour in fruits can be due to hydrolysis of anthocyanins and changes in carotenoid pigments." (Biological Sciences Review May 1998) Enzymes also have parts in pharmaceuticals and diagnostic industries, however, the applications of enzymes have not been as extensive as other industries. The most successful applications are extracellular enzymes, which means that they are secreted by the micro-organism which creates them. Enzymes have been used to treat genetic disorders, when some people are unable to produce the required enzymes. Enzymes are used in a wide variety of industries, for example to enhance flavour and as additives in detergents and the brewing industry. They provide many advantages for different industrial processes. They have also benefited industries in terms of cost, with the introduction of techniques such as enzyme immobilisation. Enzymes have been widely used in the food industries making them more competitive and they have helped in medicine and pharmaceuticals. Consequently, enzymes will be used further in the future as technology progresses. In addition they are a vital part of a number of diverse industrial processes. ...read more.

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