Immobilization-stabilization of β-glucosidase for implementation of intensified hydrolysis of cellobiose in continuous flow reactors

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Cellulose saccharification to glucose is an operation of paramount importance in the bioenergy sector and the chemical and food industries, while glucose is a critical platform chemical in the integrated biorefinery. Among the cellulose degrading enzymes, β-glucosidases are responsible for cellobiose hydrolysis, the final step in cellulose saccharification, which is usually the critical bottleneck for the whole cellulose saccharification process. The design of very active and stable β-glucosidase-based biocatalysts is a key strategy to implement an efficient saccharification process. Enzyme immobilization and reaction engineering are two fundamental tools for its understanding and implementation. Here, we have designed an immobilized-stabilized solid-supported β-glucosidase based on the glyoxyl immobilization chemistry applied in porous solid particles. The biocatalyst was stable at operational temperature and highly active, which allowed us to implement 25◦ C as working temperature with a catalyst productivity of 109 mmol/min/gsupport . Cellobiose degradation was implemented in discontinuous stirred tank reactors, following which a simplified kinetic model was applied to assess the process limitations due to substrate and product inhibition. Finally, the reactive process was driven in a continuous flow fixed-bed reactor, achieving reaction intensification under mild operation conditions, reaching full cellobiose conversion of 34 g/L in a reaction time span of 20 min.