Can someone point me out to literature (reviews or better workbooks) describing industrial chemical reactions catalysed by enzymes?

What I'm most interested in are case studies of how the output of a reaction on a big scale is optimized with respect to enzyme activity.

Most of the literature I'm finding is about optimization of cell growth, which is not what I'm looking for.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you please accept answers, which answer your question satisfactory? This is a nice gesture towards the people who write the answers. You can find all your questions in your User menu. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jun 13, 2014 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


I'll give you examples I have encountered in talks. There are too many variations and types of applications for me to break out in a comprehensive way.

Example 1: enzyme production. this sort of application is about optimizing the amount of a desirable enzyme or protein produced from a liquid culture. Sorry if this is too close to cell growth, but its terribly important. Small cell cultures are used in research and the genetics of the cells (usually e coli or yeast, but also often a fungus that's been found somewhere) to improve the amount of the desired protein. The protein may be secreted, which makes it much easier to purify.

Once a good strain is found, the culture is scaled up to thousands of liters, often many kilos of pure enzyme can be produced this way. Examples: the enzymes that break down fabric for acid washed jeans, the proteases and cutinases which are included in laundry detergent and insulin.

Example 2: glucose isomerase. This enzyme is used to produce high fructose corn syrup. The enzyme itself actually changes fructose into glucose, but by le Chatlier's principle, a glucose syrup under high pressure will be converted to fructose by the enzyme. This enzyme, produced by an industrial process like that described in example 1 is immobilized onto a resin and packed into large industrial sized columns. I seem to remember from the talk that they were similar in size to an oil barrel. Large amounts of glucose rich corn syrup are passed through the column; it comes out about 40% fructose.

Another example (3) along those lines might be how to use an enzyme with a product. In an industrial manufacturing process like enzyme denim treatment, the fabric may be washed in a solution including the enzyme. The process has to be careful to control the amount of enzyme the denim is exposed to and to optimize the conditions so that none of the fabric is ruined but comes out consistently. The enzyme might be killed by a pH change or heating. This is essentially chemical engineering and there are courses about this sort of thing at most major chemE departments now.

  • $\begingroup$ Your ex. 2 is in the direction of what I'm looking for. I agree cell growth optimization is important, but not relevant for my specific case- the engineering considerations are also not applicable. Do you have more examples of your example 2 type? $\endgroup$
    – TMOTTM
    Apr 4, 2014 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ Ive added another example - these two examples are immobilized enzyme and heterogeneous enzyme processes that broadly cover a lot of applications. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Apr 4, 2014 at 17:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Google's first hit for me. Also consider invertase to make soft centered toffee candy. And citric acid and beer/wine. Although they use microbes, enzymes do the work. $\endgroup$
    – PlaysDice
    Apr 4, 2014 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ that's a good one @PlaysDice. fermentation with organisms would include vitamin production, beer brewing, nacho cheese... a whole new frontier. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Apr 4, 2014 at 21:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ no probs. I like your answer and didn't want to add mine and dilute yours. My Google link is a very accessible intro. OP should now be able to find a reaction and search for literature on its optimization. $\endgroup$
    – PlaysDice
    Apr 4, 2014 at 22:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .