Immobilized Enzymes

In the processing of foods, enzymes have distinct advantages over chemical catalysts of which most notable are substrate specificity and activity under mild conditions of temperature and pH. However, the cost of using soluble enzymes is a drawback so there is much interest in the use of immobilized enzymes and cells. Immobilized enzymes have been defined as "enzymes that are physically confined or localized in a certain defined region of space with retention of their catalytic activities, and that can be used repeatedly and continuously" (1). Immobilization often results in the enzyme becoming water insoluble.

Compared with processing with soluble, unconstrained enzymes, immobilization offers several advantages, including:

• Reuse or continuous use of the catalyst, thereby reducing both capital and recurrent process costs

• Absence of the enzyme from the product, thus potentially allowing for a wider range of enzymes than those normally permitted in foods

• Ease of terminating the reaction without drastic measures such as heat denaturation or extreme pH

• Greater (sometimes) thermal and pH stability and prevention of self-digestion by proteases

• Less product inhibition, and more substrate depletion with continuous processes, giving faster conversion

The main disadvantages are the cost of producing the immobilized enzyme, including the cost of the support, and altered reaction kinetics, which often result from diffu-sional restrictions.

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