What is biocatalysis?

Novozymes enzymes are nature's own catalysts

Biocatalysis involves implementing natural catalysts, such as enzymes, in place of chemical catalysts in synthetic processes. Transitioning to biocatalysis enables more sustainable manufacturing of fine chemicals, agro-intermediates, and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).

Compared to chemical catalysts, enzymes offer:

• Faster reaction rates
• Milder reaction conditions
• Impressive reaction specificity with no side products

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How enzyme catalysts work

Enzyme catalysts work by lowering the activation energy (Ea‡) for a reaction, which dramatically increases the reaction rate. As a result, products are formed faster, and reactions reach their equilibrium state more rapidly. Most enzyme reaction rates are millions of times faster than those of comparable chemical or metal catalyzed reactions.

Like any catalyst, enzymes are not consumed by the reactions they catalyze, nor do they alter the equilibrium of these reactions. However, enzymes do differ from most other catalysts in that they are highly specific for their substrates, similar to a lock and key mechanism.

Fine chemicals scientist looking into microscope

Why has biocatalysis increased in popularity for synthetic processes at industrial scale?

Due to their cost-efficiency and sustainable origin, biocatalysts have become widely used tools for organic synthesis. The advantages of applying biocatalysts (or enzymes) include:

• High selectivity in production of single stereoisomers
• No additional protection/ deprotection steps
• Fewer or no side reactions
• Fewer reprocessing and purification operations
• Lacier product separation
• Less pollution and effluents

Consequently, an enzymatic route leads to a reduction in the number of process steps, reduces production costs, and enables more sustainable manufacturing of active chemicals.

Novozymes is the world leader in biological solutions

With the world’s largest and most diverse collection of enzyme strains, coupled with a global, robust and reliable supply,  Novozymes is here to help you unlock the full potential of your biocatalysis route and make your manufacturing processes more sustainable.

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Get expert advice on how to get started on your biocatalysis transition

We’re happy to put you in touch with our industry experts for advice on optimizing your process or finding the right solution or sample to meet your needs. Book a no-obligation meeting with our experts today and let them help you to:

  • Identify the right products or product class for your biocatalysis applications
  • Get technical support related to screening and selection of relevant enzyme samples to be tested in new experimental applications
  • Demonstrate the financial and environmental benefits of transitioning from chemicals to biocatalysis
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