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Thermoacidophilic derived enzymes for biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals; Improving the economics of biomass preprocessing

Stage: Development
INL’s thermoacidophilic enzyme suite has potential to improve the cost and efficiency of multiple industrial bio-processes. Activity at 70°C, pH 6 can be up to 8 times greater than other commercially available enzymes.


INL’s thermoacidophilic enzyme suite has potential to improve the cost and efficiency of multiple industrial bio-processes. Commercial enzymes available today are generally active between 25°C and 50°C at a pH of about 5. These conditions are not aligned with reaction conditions in many industrial processes. In order to make use of enzyme catalysts in such systems, excess enzymes dosages are required or additional unit operations are added to cool and adjust the pH of reactants, each of which add substantial cost. One example occurs in the animal feed industry where several of types of enzymes are added to make the feed more digestible. After enzymes are added, the feed is pelleted in a high temperature process (100-120°C), destroying a portion of the enzyme. In order to compensate, excess enzyme must be added. Similar conditions exist in other industrial processes that require enzymes such as detergent additives, wine or beer processing, pulp and paper bleaching, food and juice processing, baking, dairy processing, and custom prebiotic syntheses. Using thermo- and acid-tolerant enzymes has the potential to significantly improve efficiency of such industrial processes.

INL’s Alicyclobacillus derived enzymes are active at temperatures up to 70°C and pHs from 2–8. Activity at 70°C, pH 6 can be up to 8 times greater than other commercially available enzymes. Using Alicyclobacillus enzymes reduces cost by decreasing enzyme loading since more enzymes remain viable in high temperature, low pH conditions. Further characterization and enzyme cocktail optimization is necessary to understand performance in specific applications.

This INL technology includes a suite of lignocellulose degrading enzymes which operate at higher temperatures and/or lower pHs than current commercial lignocellulose enzymes. The thermoacidophile, Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius, produces these enzymes which release sugars from biomass by breaking linkages between hemicellulose and lignin to free hemicellulose from the biomass matrix, cleaving sidechains in hemicellulose that block its breakdown, hydrolyzing cellu

Benefits

- Reduced operating cost by decreasing required enzyme loading in industrial processes.

- Allows for the higher temperature, lower pH process conditions to improve reactor efficiency.

- Eliminates the need for costly unit operations to reduce reactant temperature and increase pH to be compatible with enzyme catalysts.