Biocatalysts: The Greener Alternative
• Biocatalysts, such as Laccases, are cost-effective and environmentally friendly. They serve multiple purposes such as in delignification and biopulping .
• Biocatalysts aid in the pulp and paper industry by degrading starch to lower viscosity, eliminate lignin, aid in sizing and coating paper .
• Laccase in biopulping have shown reduction of refining energy, increase of mill efficiency in mechanical pulping, enhanced paper strength properties, reduction of pitch problems, and improved yield1.
• A study done by MetGen in 2000 has shown that biocatalysts, specifically Laccases, have removed 90% of lignin, and other unwanted substances1.
• Biocatalysis technology’s economic impact has the potential to lower paper costs by 20 cents or higher depending on the growth of the market7.
• Biocatalysis technology has a respective $10 billion market in four categories: refining, polymerization, chemicals, and environmental due to its increasing demands3.
• Current developments to bacterially produce biocatalysts will yield large quantities, reducing economic costs1.
• Biocatalysts replace tradition paper production methods, avoiding harmful emissions such as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, as well as dioxins.
• Consumption of elemental chlorine in the paper industry was reduced form 340,000 metric tonnes to 30,000 due to Biocatalysts .
• Biocatalysts have shown potential in de-inking paper, which can be extremely beneficial to the recycling industry1.
• It is estimated that biocatalysts will accumulate 30% of the chemical business by 20506.
• Biocatalysis has a low specific activity, unstable at high temperatures and specific pH values, available for specific reactions, long development time and production for new enzymes .
• Initial production for biocatalysts requires expensive and extensive machinery that requires high initial cost .
• Constant regulation is required to maintain correct pH and temperature, causing specific chemical regulation and techniques to be met .
The pulp and paper industry is one of the largest industries in the world producing over 200 million tonnes of paper in North America alone7. The negative environmental effects caused by the pulp and paper industry, as well as the gruelling societal impacts are well known. Since there is not a complete recreation of the paper production process, biocatalysts can be used to lessen the effect. Traditional paper manufacturing includes, bleaching and the kraft process. These processes lead to harmful sulfur and chlorine-based by-products such as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, as well as dioxins5. In turn, the by-products that are produced result in increased greenhouse gases, acid rain, and air/water pollution5. The pulp and paper industry is responsible for over 40% of USA’s total waste, adding up to 71.2 million tons of paper waste annually5. Through the development of biocatalysts, an alternative to the...