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Chem Soc Rev. 2013 Aug 7;42(15):6491-533. doi: 10.1039/c3cs00004d.

Immobilised enzymes in biorenewables production.

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  • 1Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 8, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Oils, fats, carbohydrates, lignin, and amino acids are all important raw materials for the production of biorenewables. These compounds already play an important role in everyday life in the form of wood, fabrics, starch, paper and rubber. Enzymatic reactions do, in principle, allow the transformation of these raw materials into biorenewables under mild and sustainable conditions. There are a few examples of processes using immobilised enzymes that are already applied on an industrial scale, such as the production of High-Fructose Corn Syrup, but these are still rather rare. Fortunately, there is a rapid expansion in the research efforts that try to improve this, driven by a combination of economic and ecological reasons. This review focusses on those efforts, by looking at attempts to use fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins and lignin (and their building blocks), as substrates in the synthesis of biorenewables using immobilised enzymes. Therefore, many examples (390 references) from the recent literature are discussed, in which we look both at the specific reactions as well as to the methods of immobilisation of the enzymes, as the latter are shown to be a crucial factor with respect to stability and reuse. The applications of the renewables produced in this way range from building blocks for the pharmaceutical and polymer industry, transport fuels, to additives for the food industry. A critical evaluation of the relevant factors that need to be improved for large-scale use of these examples is presented in the outlook of this review.

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