Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Enzyme could overcome industrial bleaching waste problems

15.05.2003


Taken from a microbe that thrives in the depths of a Yellowstone National Park hot springs pool, a newly discovered enzyme may be the key to transforming industrial bleaching from environmentally problematic to environmentally green.



Chemical engineer Vicki Thompson and biologists William Apel and Kastli Schaller from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory discovered that the catalase enzyme from a Thermus brockianus microbe flourishes in both a high temperature and high pH (basic or alkaline) environment.

Catalase enzymes chemically alter hydrogen peroxide into natural products – water and oxygen. Industry is increasingly using peroxide in industrial bleaching processes and needs an environmentally friendly process to handle process wastes. The T. brockianus catalase works well in the hot, alkaline process wastewater where commercially available catalase enzymes do not, so it could be an answer.


Thompson will present this work at the American Society of Microbiologists annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on May 20, 2003. A paper on this research was recently accepted for publication in Biotechnology Progress and will appear in print this summer.

The work is part of the INEEL’s efforts to support the DOE mission in environmental research and development.

Industries such as textile and pulp and paper have started shifting away from toxic, carcinogenic chemical bleaching processes to more environmentally friendly hydrogen peroxide-based bleaching. Until INEEL discovered the T. brockianus enzyme, there were only a few options for dealing with the wastewater.

Industry can chemically treat the water to break hydrogen peroxide down, but that practically cancels out the environmental benefit. Or they can heavily dilute wastewater with even more water, but that increases the volume of waste water. Using catalase to break down hydrogen peroxide is a good alternative, but commercially available catalase enzymes require much cooler wastewater temperatures and lower pH conditions. This costs industry significant energy, time and money.

But the T. brockianus catalase likes these extreme conditions--performing best at temperatures around 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit) and in highly alkaline pH of more than 9. In laboratory tests, it functioned well for as long as 360 hours under these conditions compared to a mere 15 to 20 minutes for other, commercially available catalases.

Thus, the INEEL research will provide a chance for textile and pulp and paper companies to save significant energy and reduce environmental impacts.

"We didn’t anticipate such extreme stability from the catalase, even though it’s a thermophilic enzyme," said Thompson, noting that it was both unusual and a surprise because thermophiles are heat-tolerant microorganisms.

"High-temperature stability makes this enzyme potentially viable and economically attractive for industrial applications," said biologist William Apel. "This new catalase is lasting for days where the typical performance limit for many industrial-use enzymes is a mere 10 hours."

For the T. brockianus catalase, breaking down hydrogen peroxide in an industrial setting is just another day at the office. Within a microorganism, the enzyme’s normal role is to break down hydrogen peroxide that is naturally produced by cellular activity. This protects cells from oxidative stress--the biological equivalent of rust.

The next step to commercial development of T.brockianus catalase is to establish enzyme production at industrially-relevant volumes. That means identifying the gene that encodes the T. brockianus catalase, and inserting it into a microbe that is easily grown in large quantities. Then researchers can use already established technology to attach the enzyme to tiny polymer beads and pack them into columns that will filter industrial wastewater.

The team is currently discussing the industrial possibilities of this catalase with a major hydrogen peroxide manufacturer.


This research was supported by the INEEL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

The INEEL is a science-based multi-program national laboratory dedicated to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s missions in environment, energy, science and national defense. The INEEL is operated for the DOE by Bechtel BWXT Idaho, LLC.

Deborah Hill | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.inel.gov/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Deep decarbonization of industry is possible with innovations
25.03.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Five-point plan to integrate recreational fishers into fisheries and nature conservation policy
20.03.2019 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Laser processing is a matter for the head – LZH at the Hannover Messe 2019

25.03.2019 | Trade Fair News

A Varied Menu

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

‘Time Machine’ heralds new era

25.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>