Nomenclature and Methodology for Classification of Nontraditional Biocatalysis

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Recent nontraditional biocatalytic techniques, particularly those which have involved introduction of enzymes into organic liquid phases, have revolutionized the way we think about biocatalysis. Within the past decade, a variety of research programs and open literature publications have arisen investigating nonaqueous enzyme activities and the potential for using such processes commercially.However, because of the wide variety of reaction and reactor types possible, as well as vague and easity misinterpreted terminology, it is often difficult to ascertain which reaction configurations are being studied and how these may be contrasted with similar research. We propose a systematic nomenclature and vocabulary such that reaction types can be quickly classified and compared with othernontraditional systems. The approach we have taken to distinguish between systems in primarily dependent upon the phase in which each of the critical reaction components (biocatalyst, reactant(s) and product(s) is present. Possible resident phases include aqueous (A), organic (O), vapor (V), and supercritical (SC). With this system, a reaction scheme may be classified with a three-characteridentifier, such as AAO (a system in which the enzyme and substrate are present in an aqueous phase and the product is recovered from an organic phase). Special cases, such as when the biocatalyst is immobilized or the product forms an insoluble percipitate, are also discussed in the context of this nomenclature. This developed nomenclature and vocabulary also allow categorization ofbiocatalytic bioprocessing into two distinct classes: traditional (aqueous phase only) and nontraditional, the latter of which may be further subdivided into nonaqueous, aqueous, and supercritical biocatalysis. Such categorization provides a cohesive methodology by which to classify new work within the nontraditional arena, as well as to broaden or refine current research. Furthermore, thispaper provides a technology roadmap which outlines nontraditional areas and their associated development, issues which still require eamination, in terms of both bridging and fundamental research, before these techniques will be adopted by the private sector.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)512-518
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-570-24317


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