Biocatalysis, also referred to as enzymatic catalysis or biotransformation, is the use of enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions. The field for biocatalysis continues to grow as chemists strive towards more efficient and green chemistry processes, while reducing costs.
The use of enzymes, isolated enzymes or whole cells, as catalysts offer several advantages over traditional metal catalysts. Firstly, enzymes are highly efficient, providing faster reaction rates than chemically catalyzed reactions, and at lower concentrations. Secondly, enzymes function under mild temperature and pH conditions, as well as in aqueous environments, enabling a tendency towards green large-scale processes. Thirdly, enzymes offer high specificity, being chemo-, regio-, diastereo- and enantiospecific, targeting specific functional groups. Finally, enzymes lower the cost of chemical synthesis, and can be mass produced.
The pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum, agricultural, polymer and electronics industries have reported applications of enzyme catalyzed syntheses. Industrial scale organic biotransformations include hydrolysis, oxidation, reduction, addition – elimination, halogenation and dehalogenation, and transesterification reactions.
Similarly to metal catalyzed reactions, in situ FTIR spectroscopy monitors the progress of biocatalytic conversions to determine reaction endpoints, understand reaction mechanisms, monitor the formation of intermediates, and perform reaction kinetics analysis, all in order to optimize reaction conditions and increase product yield and purity. Integrated with ReactIR™, chemical synthesis reactors support enzyme screening, route scouting, process development and optimization, and process scale-up studies to ultimately improve product yield and quality. Flow chemistry enhances biocatalysis processes.
Chemists working in chemical synthesis discover and develop innovative chemical reactions and processes.