All companies have a responsibility to pursue sustainable solutions to their industrial processes, and in many cases enzymes can help them do it.
Chemicals used in industrial processes are one of the most severe threats to nature and man today. By using enzymes instead of chemicals, the problem is solved. Enzymes present no threat to the environment whatsoever. And enzymes do not just replace chemicals. They also reduce the consumption of raw materials, energy and water, giving real benefits to both the environment and industry.
Enzymes are macromolecular biological catalysts. They are responsible for thousands of metabolic processes that sustain life. Enzymes are highly selective catalysts, greatly accelerating both the rate and specificity of metabolic chemical reactions, from the digestion of food to the synthesis of DNA. Most enzymes are proteins.
Enzymes act by converting starting molecules (substrates) into different molecules (products). Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates sufficient for life. Since enzymes are selective for their substrates and speed up only a few reactions from among many possibilities, the set of enzymes made in a cell determines which metabolic pathways occur in that cell, tissue and organ.
As with all catalysts, 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.
Enzyme activity can be affected by other molecules: decreased by inhibitors or increased by activators. Many drugs and poisons are enzyme inhibitors. Activity is also affected by temperature, pressure, chemical environment (e.g., pH), and the concentration of substrate. Some enzymes are used commercially, for example, in the synthesis of antibiotics. In addition, some household products use enzymes to speed up biochemical reactions (e.g., enzymes in biological washing powders break down protein or fat stains on clothes; enzymes in meat tenderizers break down proteins into smaller molecules, making the meat easier to chew). The study of enzymes is called enzymology.
Xylanases reduce bleach required for decolorizing; cellulases smooth fibers, enhance water drainage, and promote ink removal; lipases reduce pitch and lignin-degrading enzymes remove lignin to soften paper.
Cellulases is used to break down cellulose into sugars that can be fermented into cellulosic ethanol.
Ligninases is used for the breakdown of lignin waste.