TECHNOLOGY innovation centre CPI and the University of Oxford, UK have partnered to scale up technology that could facilitate biocatalysis methods and enable safer, more economically viable and more sustainable production of fine chemicals.
Biocatalysis allows for safer and more sustainable chemical processing. Enzymes are used in place of metal-based catalysts (which are often toxic), and flammable organic solvents are replaced with water. Additionally, enzyme catalysts produce highly pure chemical products and minimise the need for expensive purification. This makes biocatalysis of particular interest for the production of pharmaceuticals, flavourings, and fragrances.
However, many biocatalytic reactions require the constant feed of the cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH). It is a critical but expensive component of many biocatalytic reactions, and its requirement has hindered industrial adoption of biocatalytic technology.
The partners are collaborating to scale up Oxford’s HydRegen technology – novel NADH recycling technology which could help to facilitate industrial biocatalysis – to enable evaluation in an industrial setting.
HydRegen provides an inexpensive solution for large-scale biocatalytic reactions. The technology employs specialised enzymes immobilised onto carbon beads, which, in the presence of hydrogen, readily recycle NADH consumed in the reaction. As the enzymes are immobilised, they can be easily recovered from the final product, enabling a more sustainable and cost-effective process.
Using its state-of-the-art industrial biotechnology facilities and extensive experience in scaleup of biotechnologies, CPI adapted Oxford’s bacterial growth protocol to scale up enzyme production. The innovation centre has successfully increased production to 10-fold higher biomass than previously reported, optimising the bacterial feed strategy to raise the optical density at 600 nm (OD600) from 5 units to 125 units. Optical density is used to measure the density of materials and media such as microbial cell concentration in a bioreactor.
Further work aims to increase the enzyme yield obtained from cultures.
Kylie Vincent, Professor in Inorganic Chemistry at University of Oxford, said: “This collaboration is exciting because it will allow us to fully evaluate HydRegen in an industrially-relevant setting. If HydRegen outperforms traditional chemical synthesis as expected, then it will open the door to the use of enzymes across the chemical industry, which is a crucial step for a more sustainable future.”
This story was edited on 26 February to add figures relating to the increase in biomass achieved by CPI.
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